Sen. Shelby advocates for Alabama to land F-35 program

Sen. Shelby advocates for Alabama to land F-35 program
The F-35 (Source: Department of Defense)
The F-35 (Source: Department of Defense)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSFA) - U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), would like nothing more than to see the Air Force locate its new F-35 fighter jet program in the heart of Alabama, and on Wednesday he discussed the possibility that it could happen.

Shelby, who sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, spent time questioning Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, as well as Chief of Staff David Goldfein, on the topic of the Air Force's funding requests for 2018.

Shelby brought up the jet project in a question to Wilson, noting the Air Force's recent visit to the 187th Fighter Wing in Montgomery.

"I think they had a good site visit," Shelby said. "Would you provide a current update of the selection process, where you are?" he asked Wilson.

The answer he got didn't put him any closer to an answer, though.

"I actually intentionally don't touch that process at all until they are ready to make a presentation to me and the chief on their evaluation of the bases and the options," Wilson testified, stating she wants the process to be "very transparent and analytical".

Earlier in June, Shelby and Alabama's legislative delegation wrote to Wilson expressing their appreciation for the Air Force's visit to Dannelly Field and consideration of the Alabama site.

The F-35 stealth jet judging panel visited Montgomery in May. There are five cities on the short list to land the project, and according to Montgomery's F-35 task force, its biggest competition is the Air Force base in Jacksonville, Florida.

Montgomery's mayor said he was hoping to hear what the results are within three months.

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