Some Idaho residents want to keep F-35 jets out of state

  • Sun Mar 4th, 2012 1:11pm
  • News

Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — A group of residents in southwest Idaho is hoping to ground a possible plan to bring F-35 fighter jets to Boise’s Gowen Field.

Residents say they fear deafening jet engines flying over homes, causing health problems and lowering property values.

“People have no concept of what it will be like to live here,” Monty Mericle, an engineer and the group’s leader, told the Idaho Statesman.

The Air Force is also looking at training sites at Tucson International Airport and Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, and another in New Mexico. The F-35 is intended to eventually replace the aging F-16.

A study by the Air Force found as many as 10,000 people near the Boise Airport would hear loud and frequent jet noise if the maximum 74 F-35s were placed at Gowen Field.

The Air Force has said its preferred location is Arizona, but it’s required by federal regulations to complete an environmental impact process. The Air Force said it would take at least $167 million in airfield construction to use the airport in Boise.

Air Force officials said all public comments will be considered. Comments are due by March 14.

“It remains highly unlikely that the F-35 will come to Gowen Field at any time in the foreseeable future,” Boise city officials said. “The city of Boise will study the draft EIS and use it to inform our position on the F-35.”

Supporters of bringing the F-35s to Boise say it would create about 2,500 jobs, which Lt. Gov. Brad Little said at a public hearing last week are critical. A final decision where the F-35 is housed is anticipated in the fall.

“There is a little more work that can be done to address the noise concerns,” Little said.

The Boise base now houses A-10 Warthogs.

Part of the problem, Mericle said, is that residential areas have moved in around the airport over the decades that was built in the 1940s at was then far south of Boise.