High hopes that F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jets land in Lemoore

LEMOORE, Calif.

A government video shows a test flight of the brand new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Jet. The Department of Defense has purchased thousands of these new high-tech aircrafts.

Within the next ten years, the F-35 could be at Lemoore Naval Air Station. Right now, pilots here operate the F-18 Hornet, which the navy eventually plans to phase out.

LNAS Commanding Officer, Capt. James Knapp said, "These airplanes were built to last about 6,000 hours and we've been able to eek out about 8,600 hours from each of those airplanes and they're also limited to the number of rested landings they can take on board the aircraft carrier. Those limits are being met."

If Lemoore Naval Air Station is chosen as the Navy's west coast location for the F-35 fleet, 100 F-35 aircrafts would replace 109 F-18 Hornets currently on base.

Commanding Officer James Knapp says the F-35 is loaded with latest computer technology. Even its frame cannot easily be detected by radar. "It has data fusion capabilities unheard of 20-30 years ago that's a key component of it."

Navy officials say the F-18 and the F-35c both run on a single engine so they don't expect there to be much of a noise difference between the two jets

There's no guarantee the F-35's will be here at LNAS. In fact, the NAVY is also considering locating the aircraft in El Centro, in southern California.

If Lemoore Naval Air Station is not chosen, thousands of people at the base would relocate, leaving the base about 35% smaller, a huge negative impact to the nearby city of Lemoore.

Lemoore City Manager, Jeff Briltz said, "The importance simply just can't be overstated. So many people have ties to the base. The base estimates that they contribute $1 billion to the regional economy here."

Navy officials have just begun work on the environmental impact statement. They're holding a public meeting Thursday night at the Lemoore Senior Center to get feedback on the project.

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