114th Fighter Wing Misses Out On F-35

Joe Foss Field Not Selected As Possible Home For New Jets

The Air Force selected five out of eighteen locations that move forward as possible new homes for the F-35’s.

The 114th fighter wing at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls was not one of them.

Flight Commander Col. Nate Alholinna said they thought they would be serious contenders for the nod.

“We were disappointed. We feel like we’re one of the top units in the nation that is certainly deserving of the F-35,” said Col. Alholinna.

Col. Alholinna said homes for the F-35s are based on a variety of air field characteristics.

Scoring is based on factors including weather, air space, maintenance capabilities, hangers, aircraft ramps, airfield capabilities, and air quality

“We did extremely well in all the categories. There was a fairly large part of the category that falls under mission requirements that we aren’t quite sure. We didn’t score as well as I thought we should have and we’re looking to get some answers and find out why that was,” said Col. Alholinna.

The unit’s mission score is what put other locations ahead of the 114th Fighter Wing.

“Our air-to-ground ranges are a considerable ways away in Kansas and Wisconsin and that didn’t score so well for us. There are other units that those ranges are closer to the units,” said Col. Alholinna.

They will continue to fly the capable but aging F-16 Falcon, which the unit has used since 1992.

Col. Alholinna said 114th is optimistic it will see F-35’s at Joe Foss Field in due time.

“The F-35 is the future of the Air Force and everyone that flies fighter airplanes today is going to be flying the F-35 eventually,” said Col. Alholinna.

With deployments coming for the unit next year, he also said they aren’t dwelling on missing their chance.

“We felt like we were ready now but we still have a job to do,” said Col. Alholinna.

The 114th Fighter Wing submitted their data assessment required for potential F-35 bases earlier this year.

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