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Bishop: F-35 Aircraft Good For Utah And Nation

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 A Pentagon report released this week finds the latest F-35B aircraft may not be ready to replace outdated Marine Corps Aircraft.  Findings that the aircraft testing fell short comes just as air force officials in Utah are preparing for additional aircraft to arrive.

Residents living in Utah’s first congressional district, where Hill Air Force Base is located, welcomed the first shipment of F-35’s in early September. Utah Republican Congressman Rob Bishop and the rest of Utah’s federal delegation have been praising the contract with the air force as a way to enhance the economy in Davis County.

“It’s not just an economic boon for Utah,” Bishop said. “This is good for the military and for the nation.  The fact that the plane is here is a big boost in the defense of this country.  I don’t want to under emphasize that at all.”

Bishop, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has been working since he was elected in 2002 to guarantee his first district constituents that the base would not close after defense spending was cut and the F-16 was retired.  And, he says, the F-35 program will prove to be a successful form of air defense for the nation.

“Time will tell,” said Utah State University Political Science Instructor Peter Crosby. “The F-35 program is a complicated one.  It is an extraordinarily expensive program.”

The F-35 program has seen fifteen years of delays and increased costs. Just this week reports were released by the Pentagon that find recent test-runs on the most current F-35B were not successful and that the jet may not be combat-ready.

Because most of the jobs at Utah’s base are for maintenance and repair of the F-35 Crosby says the fact that the jet is not combat-ready now does not mean work at Hill Air Force will be delayed as a total of 72 jets are scheduled to arrive here in the next eighteen months.

“When you look at national security concerns they certainly are not decreasing,” Crosby said. “We have persistent problems in the Middle East with ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”

Both Bishop and Crosby believe whatever the status of the F-35 program national defense and the cost of the program will be among topics discussed during the 2016 presidential campaign.