TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo, Bruce Land, Bob Andrzejczak and Wayne DeAngelo sponsored to encourage the military to base some of its newest fighter jets in New Jersey cleared the full Assembly, 68-0-2, on Thursday.
The resolution (AR-149) urges the United States Air Force to base F-35 Lightning II fighter jets at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township. The F-35s would replace the older F-16s currently flown by Guard members at the base.
“I am so proud to represent hundreds of members of the elite 177th Fighter Wing who live and work in Atlantic County. I’ve seen first-hand how important their mission is to our state and our nation. Being located between New York City and Washington, D.C. makes the 177th Fighter Wing an ideal strategic location from a national defense perspective,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “New Jersey has a premier Air National Guard facility that is suitable for housing F-35s.”
The 177th Fighter Wing meets the United States Air Force basing criteria which include: mission requirements such as weather, airspace and training range availability; capacity such as sufficient hanger and ramp space, and facility considerations; environmental requirements; and cost factors. The military’s new 5th Generation aircraft are some of the most advanced jets in the world.
“In addition to air-to-ground mission experience and expertise, the 177th Fighter Wing has had three combat deployments and 14 years of Homeland Defense experience,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. “Furthermore, the professionalism of the personnel at the facility and its model location make it a strong candidate to fulfill this important role as our nation strengthens its ability to protect the American people.”
“The 177th Fighter Wing is already designed to meet the needs of the F-35 fighter jets, which means the transition from F-16s to F-35s will cost little to no taxpayer dollars,” said Andrzejczak (D- Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq. “Bringing these jets to New Jersey would be a cost-effective, smart move for our military.”
“As a premier Air National Guard Facility, the 177th Fighter Wing has been a critical asset to the planning and execution of national security decisions,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Its 14 years of experience in Homeland Defense including three combat deployments and air-to-ground missions makes the 177th Fighter Wing a natural selection for housing the United States Air Force F-35 fighter jets.”
Inspections to narrow down the list of prospective bases are expected to occur by Spring 2017.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.