Updated: Kickin’ the tires on the F-35

I notice in today’s Freeps that there is some discussion of why the Air Force has not staged a demo of the F-35 in Burlington. Here is the Freeps take on the reasons:

There are plenty of reasons why the test flights are impractical, chief among them being that the F-35’s are still in development and are unavailable for test deployments.

I respectfully submit that this is a load of B.S.  These planes have been “in development” long enough now, and at great enough expense, that there is most certainly at least one example that is tested and ready for deployment.  If not, something is very wrong with the program and we can only guess that the plane may have some grave safety issue that remains unresolved.

Safety is the only possible reason why the people of Chittenden county could not have the opportunity to experience the plane, first hand, before being expected to accept its deployment here…and that certainly raises its own set of questions.


You’ve got to hand it to F-35 opponents in the Burlington area.  They’re not giving up without a fight.

I don’t live in the area, and I don’t work in the field; so I haven’t a dog in that fight.  But I do see that opponents in the affected communities are being pressured to stand down for what amount to short-term economic reasons alone; and that is always concerning.

The F-35 program is near and dear to the hearts of our governor, our DC delegation, and many in municipal government; all of whom are understandably eager to lock-in Guard related jobs in any way they can.

But short-term economic assurances at the cost of long-term health and social impacts is a bargain Vermonters just can’t afford to make.

There are still too many unknowns associated with the F-35 program, even as local politicos fall all over themselves to secure the siting.

It is not crazy to be inquiring as to the impact on children’s health and hearing.  

It is not crazy to regard the loss of up to a thousand homes as potentially devastating for the sense of community.

As always, the voices of those who challenge any development, for ANY reasons are ill-tolerated by the power elite, and flicked away repeatedly, like so many summer flies.

However, the community still hasn’t received fully satisfactory answers as to why South Burlington was identified as the “preferred” location for the siting; although, ironically, cost now appears to be the primary driver.

(Take that, you naysayers who argue that Vermont isn’t economically competitive in attracting new businesses!)

It is becoming apparent that the affected communities must make their final decision to accept or reject the siting without the benefit of experiencing the F-35 auditory “experience,” first-hand.

That seems remarkably unfair.

Is it because, in order to even receive a visit from the aircraft, major modifications must first be made to Burlington Airport?

If so, what do those modifications entail, and how might they impact  the surrounding environment.

An engineer  friend of mine with some knowledge of the field, has hinted that we may be looking at the wrong primary impact in discussing noise issues associated with the aircraft.  

He speculates that there is much more reason for concern with the radar upgrades at the airport that will undoubtedly have to be made in order to host the state-of-the-art stealth warship.

Such upgrades might well impact airborne wildlife, my friend suggests.

I have no ability to assess his concerns, but would like to know if anyone has raised this peripheral issue and if it has been successfully laid to rest.

And are we so certain that the F-35 represents the best hedge on securing the future of Vermont’s Air National Guard?

Even a brief Google search reveals that there are a great many doubts about the F-35’s performance, not to mention its escalating price-tag and production delays.

What happens if someone pulls the plug on the program after all the homes have been condemned and investments have been made in conforming infrastructure?  

Is this really the basket into which we want to put all of our eggs?

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

7 thoughts on “Updated: Kickin’ the tires on the F-35

  1. Here’s a bazillion dollar plane that can’t perform this way, can’t perform that way.  It is military boondoggle at its worst.  If we were in WWII and a plane with so many defects were handed to the government, people would be thrown in jail after the first test trials.  But now we hand out badly needed federal funds for junk.  I wonder if the Saudis  will buy this plane?  At a ‘discount’ maybe.

    Perhaps the sole ‘performance’ value of the F-35 is to create enough noise to destroy property values and downgrade the quality of life in communities so that real estate sharks and companies like WalMart can buy up land on the cheap.

    “It’s the LAND, Katie-Scarlett,”  says Wall Street.

    Thank you again, Sue.

  2. Have you ever seen one of those Swiss Army knives that has so many blades that it is wider than it is thick? They are clumsy and practically useless. That’s the F-35. Some genius thought that we should have one aircraft that could do everything and so everything got tacked on to it till it barely flies.

    Pentagon procurement and strategic policy aside (and we have to walk a long way to get aside from that) we need some kind of strategic economic vision for this state. Specifically, we need one that looks at the probable realities of future energy and commodity costs, corporate outsourcing, and Vermont’s resource base, both natural and human.

    The Air National Guard and the F-35 represent the worst kind of military Keynsianism. It’s pointless, destructive, wasteful pork.

  3. When they were doing some kind of maneuvers over on this side of the state, I cannot imagine what the boom for the larger plane will be like for the families and businesses in and around B-town.  

  4. These two have commonalities, as Bruce Post’s recent opinion in the Free Press notes.  


    …. we are never completely safe in our homes. We are wary of the stranger at the door, fearful of the burglar and the thief. We fear the sense of violation that comes with a lock pried, window broken and drawers thrown about indiscriminately. We arm ourselves with dead-bolt locks, alarm systems, barred windows and bullets and guns.”

    . . .

    Yet, the common thief is our least injurious threat. Others who seek to invade our homes are superficially more reputable: the corporate elite, the politicians who do their bidding and the courtiers and camp followers who flatter them.

    This ubiquitous and enduring coterie has, is and will always sweep aside homes, neighborhoods, villages and towns to satisfy their economic appetites, to satiate – momentarily – their greed.

    Canadian geographers J. Douglas Porteous and Sandra Smith christen these acts as domicide, the killing of home. Their definition sounds clinically chaste: “the deliberate destruction of home by human agency in pursuit of specified goals, which cause suffering to its victims.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *