Montgomery leaders feeling confident on landing prized fighter jet

Published: Jun. 2, 2017 at 5:19 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2017 at 6:53 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The prospects are looking up for Montgomery as the city battles to land the F-35 jet program. During a Montgomery chamber business breakfast, community leaders got an update from the site visit last week by the military. The news was good.

Montgomery is said to be in the top five of all the locations being considered. If Montgomery were to land the F-35 at the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field, Montgomery would virtually be protected from future BRAC closings, and a huge boost to the local economy is all but certain.

"It's going to be 100 million easily on an annual basis to us," said Mayor Todd Strange.

"From an operational standpoint, we had ratings of excellence on our airspace," said Montgomery Chamber Vice president of Military and Governmental Affairs Joe Greene. "Superior with our ability to integrate with other aircraft."

Landing the F-35 program would keep the 1,300 jobs the 187th has already with the likelihood of adding at least 200 more. They would also receive an initial investment of $20-80 million in infrastructure.

"And these are very high paying jobs," said Strange.

"I would be shocked if we didn't get it," said one city leader, who refused to be identified.

The F-35 would replace the aging F-16s.

We also learned today the city could know as soon as Aug. 1 whether the F-35 program will call the 187th home for the next 35 years.

Even if the city were to lose out on the F-35, the F-16 fighter jets are still going away, a scenario local leaders say would have a crippling effect on Montgomery's economy.

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