Members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Debra Lee James urging her to consider the 138th Fighter Wing (138th FW) in Tulsa as the next home for the F-35A.
The Air Force is looking for two National Guard candidate wings as future bases for the F-35A. While these aircraft would not begin to arrive until 2022 or 2023, a decision is expected to be made sometime over the next year.
Criteria that will be considered in the final candidate basing decision will include training environment, facilities, personnel and overall cost to bed down and operate the F-35As. The 138th FW, located on the north end of the Tulsa International Airport, has an experienced cadre of pilots and maintainers, airspace and training ranges, and facilities ready to operate and sustain the F-35A mission.
“The Air Force need look no further than the 138th FW if it is looking for the most professional and proven combat ready Airmen with unmatched community support,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe. “The support for our military, their families and their mission is unconditional in Oklahoma. There is no greater sound than the sound of freedom.”
“Tulsa’s 138th Fighter Wing National Guard, and the state of Oklahoma, is well-positioned to beddown the F-35,” said Sen. James Lankford. “As the second-largest National Guard fighter wing in America, Tulsa is ideal for operating this caliber of fighter jet. Our training capabilities, infrastructure and community support makes Tulsa the ideal strategic location for this key national security asset.”
“The Airmen of the 138th Fighter Wing have always answered the call with distinction and professionalism,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine.“The city of Tulsa and its employers have always supported them. Tulsa is the right place for the F-35.”
“Oklahoma has a long history of supporting our military across the state,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin. “Our unparalleled community support combined with our central location, ongoing facility upgrades, strong aerospace industry, and most importantly, the men and women serving in the 138th Fighter Wing, make Tulsa the ideal home for the F-35A program.”
“Oklahoma already has the infrastructure not only to fly and maintain these aircraft, but to train the pilots as well,” said Rep. Steve Russell. “Given the distinguished combat record of our Air Guard, Oklahoma would be a natural choice for the future home of the F-35As.”