Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Photo by Liz Kaszynski FP150855 Hehs Beaufort Code One Aerial Photo/Video Mission Location: Beaufort, South Carolina March 19, 2015 VMFAT-501 Warlords Aircraft 10 - Major "RJ" Corkill Aircraft 11 - Major "Stiffler" Fearon Aircraft - Major "Gravy" Rountree
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Photo by Liz Kaszynski FP150855 Hehs Beaufort Code One Aerial Photo/Video Mission Location: Beaufort, South Carolina March 19, 2015 VMFAT-501 Warlords Aircraft 10 - Major "RJ" Corkill Aircraft 11 - Major "Stiffler" Fearon Aircraft - Major "Gravy" Rountree
The United States Air Force has selected Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith, Arkansas, as the preferred location to establish an F-35 Lightning II training center for Foreign Military Sales.

Terre Haute Regional Airport-Hulman Field was among five final sites considered for the training center.

The Arkansas site will also be the new location for the 425th Fighter Squadron, a Republic of Singapore air force F-16 Fighting Falcon training unit currently based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. The new training center will have capacity for up to 36 fighter aircraft.

“The F-35 program is a multi-service, multi-national effort that dramatically increases interoperability between the U.S. and other F-35 partner nations,” Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth said in a statement Thursday. “We are fully committed to the F-35 as the cornerstone of the U.S. Air Force’s fighter fleet and look forward to building stronger relationships with nations who want to work by our side.”

"I think we should be proud of what we did. We put a great package together," said Rick Burger, a board member at the Terre Haute airport who was part of the effort to bring the training center to the Wabash Valley.

"I think we are on the map now and more people know what Terre Haute has to offer. Yes, it is disappointing, but yet I know there is so much more potential out there. This would have been a great hit for the community, but I think there will be other opportunities with this," Burger said.

"We were recognized as a community working together in partnership, collaboration, communication. It is disappointing, but we will move forward. As a board member, I would like to learn what our weakness was ... but the community worked hard together on this and I am proud of that," Burger said.

Foreign Military Sales is a security assistance program authorized by the Arms Export Control Act. The act allows the U.S. to sell defense equipment, conduct training and provide services to a foreign country when the president deems that doing so will strengthen U.S. national security and promote world peace.

Following this decision, the Department of the Air Force will conduct an environmental impact analysis to confirm Ebbing ANGB can support the new F-35 and F-16 missions. This selection also establishes Selfridge ANGB, Michigan, as an alternate location in the rare case the environmental impact analysis determines the preferred location unsuitable. The Department of the Air Force anticipates making the final basing decision in spring 2023.
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