The folks at Naval Air Station Lemoore say their F-18 Fighter Jets are getting old. The hornets are at the end of their life-cycle and need to be switched out. And there is no mistaking the fact that the F35s are better.
Melinda Larson, a Nas Lemoore Public Affairs Officer said, "It uses up to date technology, it's harder to detect on radar, and it has farther flying range before it needs to be refueled."
The problem is Naval Air Station Lemoore is not the only naval base that wants the F35s. Naval Air Facility El Centro wants them too. At this point in the environmental review process the Navy says NAS Lemoore is the "preferred home base" even though no final decision has been made.
Jeff Briltz, the Lemoore city manager said, "We're optimistic, we know it's not a done deal but bodes well for the future of the base and its long term um viability in providing the kind of support and economic impact it does to this region."
If El Centro was chosen over Lemoore, the Naval Air Station would see a 30 percent reduction in staff and the impact would be detrimental to the nearby City of Lemoore.
Thus far the Navy says construction is cheaper in Lemoore costing the military $226 million as compared to $793 million in El Centro. And while the secretary of the Navy still has to sign off on the deal, the folks on the naval base are already looking forward to seeing those F35s.
Larson added, "The base is prepared and the sailors are energized about the prospects of having the next generation of strike fighter jets stationed at naval air station Lemoore."
About 100 jets will arrive between 2016 and 2028 and in case you are wondering, they cost more than $80 million each. There will be a public meeting in Lemoore next month if you would like to offer a comment.