The Arizona Air National Guard at the Tucson International Airport and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base are so important to the Pima County economy that the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voiced unanimous support for their existing and future missions.
Even though the U.S. Department of Defense in August 2012 selected Luke Air Force Base inGlendaleas a new F-35 pilot training center, future opportunities may exist for reserve and foreign pilot training.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program.
The Air National Guard is the region’s 37th largest employer, generating more than $280 million in annual economic benefit. Davis-Monthan, meanwhile, is the third largest public employer in the region, contributing $1.1 billion a year to the local economy.
The Guard’s 162nd Fighter Training Wing is the largest in the country, serving as an
F-16 training unit for National Guard and international pilots on 94 acres atTucsonInternationalAirport. The wing has trained pilots from 28 countries that fly the F-16.
“A big part of the reason I placed this resolution on the agenda is that I wanted to make it very clear not only to other jurisdictions in our region, but clear to our congressional leadership as well as to the leadership in the Pentagon, that this community, its leadership and its elected officials adamantly support Davis-Monthan and the 162nd and their missions,” said Pima County Supervisors Chairman Ramón Valadez. “I wanted to make that very loud and clear.”
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías said that while it is important to be cognizant of those who live near the military installations and the need to balance their lifestyles with future missions, he said he felt confident supporting the 162nd. “They’re very important to our community and very important to the economics of our community,” he said.
A number of local business and community leaders, including the DM-50, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and U.S. Rep. Ron Barber’s office, expressed support for current and ongoing missions as well.
David Welsh, representing Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, estimated the economic impact of adding an F-35 component to the mission of the 162nd could add up to $60 million annually in economic impact to the region.
Mike Varney, President of the Tucson Metro Chamber, likewise applauded the board for its leadership. “One of the things that sometimes gets overlooked is the ripple effect of having both these installations in the community – the number of small businesses who are vendors to these installations and the number of people they employ and the paychecks they create.”
Citizens who are interested in expressing an opinion about the existing and future missions of the Air National Guard are encouraged to contact the Air Force. Letters may be sent to:
The Honorable Terry Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics
1665 Air Force Pentagon
Additional letters may be sent to the following:
Michael B. Donley
Secretary of theUnited StatesAir Force
1160 Air Force Pentagon
General Mark A. Welsh, III
Chief of Staff, USAF
1670 Air Force Pentagon
General Mike Hostage
Commander, Air Combat Command
205 Dodd Blvd., Suite 100
Langley AFB, VA 23665-2788
Lt. General Burton Field
1630 Air Force Pentagon
General Larry O. Spencer
Vice Chief of Staff, USAF
1670 Air Force Pentagon