MONTGOMERY, Ala. – (Dec. 21, 2017) The Business Council of Alabama today praised efforts by national, state, and local officials who worked to land the F-35 Joint Fighter Mission at the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Fighter Wing at Montgomery’s Dannelly Field.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson chose Montgomery for the new generation U.S. fighter aircraft mission.
“From our understanding, it will mean adding 1,000 additional jobs over the next few years and an investment of up to $70 million that local and state contractors can bid on, and a $24 million annual increase in the unit’s direct economic impact on the area,” Business Council of Alabama Chairman Jeff Coleman, president and CEO of Coleman Worldwide Moving in Dothan, said.
Coleman is civilian aide to the secretary of the Army (South), an honorary position that acts as liaison between civilian and military interests. “This is excellent news for Alabama and it shows the confidence our nation’s military structure has in the state, which is already home to four major military bases whose men and women defend our country,” he said.
Coleman praised Alabama U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby, Luther Strange, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, Governor Kay Ivey, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon, Col. Randal Efferson, the 187th Fighter Wing’s commanding officer, Alabama’s congressional delegation, and Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield for their steadfast and unwavering support for trying to secure the fighter wing in Alabama.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, was at Thursday’s Montgomery announcement.
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, who serves on the subcommittee and crafts legislation funding the military, said today was a historic day for Alabama and the River Region.
“I could not be prouder of the men and women of the 187th for how they demonstrated their capability to carry out this special mission,” she said in a statement.
Sen. Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said the decision is “a true testament to Alabama’s work in the defense sector.”
“The strong support of the community, along with the proximity of Dannelly Field to several other major military bases, saving both time and money, led Air Force Secretary Wilson to choose Montgomery for the new F-35A fighter jet program,” Sen. Shelby said.
“This announcement is huge for the River Region, it is huge for Alabama and is certainly a welcome gift for us as we approach Christmas,” Governor Ivey said. “The decision to send the F-35 to Montgomery is a testament to the quality of our people and our workforce, and further cements Alabama’s reputation as the leading aerospace state in the nation.”
The F-35 is the military’s latest fighting jet and eventually will replace older Cold War-era fighter planes currently in use.
The 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard currently includes a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, a combat communications group, an RC-26 reconnaissance aircraft squadron, and an eagle vision unit. The 187th was one of five Air National Guard units on the short list to receive the F-35.
Alabama’s foremost voice for business, the BCA is a non-partisan statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of nearly 1 million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. The BCA is Alabama’s exclusive affiliate to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.