April 9, 2010

The Honorable Michael B. Donley
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force, Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20330-1670

Dear Secretary Donley:

We write to you in opposition to U.S. Air Force proposals to site the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Tucson International Airport (TIA) Air Guard Station in Tucson, Ariz.

TIA is in an urban area of 1 million residents. Flights into and out of TIA and nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base require low-level approaches and departures over heavily populated areas.

The F-35 is a new aircraft that features many new technologies. To date, safety data for the aircraft are lacking for both its overall performance and its components. We note that there has been a two=year delay in its development because of test failures and redesign requirements. The Government Accountability Office has expressed concern over initiating production prior to completion of all its pre-development testing.

There is general agreement that the F-35 is noisier that the F-16 it is to be replacing; there is disagreement over how much noisier is the F-35. This issue resulted in a City of Valparaiso lawsuit when it discovered that the difference would be significant, contrary to Air Force assurances.

The costs to Tucson residents of F-35 deployment at TIA are significant in terms of diminished property values and property-tax revenues. The noise volume of the F-35s would have a negative impact on the local environment and the quality of residents’ lives, which together for the heart of the area’s tourism industry and its appeal as a place to live. Siting this aircraft at TIA would deter if not destroy Tucson’s efforts to rejuvenate its deteriorated urban core.

It would be unwise, and unfair to local residents, for the Air Force to site its newest and noisiest fighter aircraft at a commercial airport in the midst of the Tucson metropolitan area.


Roy Emrick
Chair, Sierra Club Rincon Group

cc: General Norton A. Schwartz, U.S. Air Force
Mayor Robert Walkup, City of Tucson
David Martin, AETC, NEPA Program Manager