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USAF selects Eielson as top choice for F-35s

By Bonney Bowman 7:18 PM August 7, 2014

Millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs could be on their way to the Interior.

The Air Force announced Eielson Air Force Base is the top choice to host two F-35 squadrons.

After numerous delays and a long waiting period for Alaskans, state lawmakers greeted the announcement with excitement.

Sen. Mark Begich says the decision highlights Alaska’s strategic military importance in the Pacific and beyond.

The next step in the decision is an environmental impact statement by the EPA, which should be complete by November 2015.

Begich says he then expects between $60-80 million in construction and development at Eielson over 2016 and 2017, getting the base ready for the new planes and the people who fly and maintain them.

He says he gives a lot of credit to the people of Fairbanks and the Interior for helping make this happen.

“They went to every public hearing. They made sure that the Department of Defense, the Pentagon, heard from Alaskans first about why this base location, in Alaska was the right decision, especially at Eielson,” Begich said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’s glad military leaders recognize Alaska’s importance in defending the country.

The squadrons are expected to create several hundred new jobs with both military and civilian positions. The workers plus their families are estimated to bring around 2,000 people into the area.

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