Fort Smith in running for Singapore Air Force, F-35 fleet
Federal officials have listed the Fort Smith Regional Airport as a finalist to host F-35 planes and the Republic of Singapore’s F-16 squadron.
The airport encompasses Ebbing Air National Guard Base, where the 188th Wing of the Air National Guard is stationed. It is in the running with Hulman Field, Buckley Air Force Base, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Selfridge Air National Guard Base for the F-35 fleet and Singapore’s squadron.
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has advocated for the city’s inclusion in what his office calls an “important economic development and national security initiative,” according to a news release.
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on July 6 signed a memorandum for a permanent foreign military sales training center for 24-36 F-35 long term Foreign Military Sales aircraft and F-16 basing for the Republic of Singapore. Singapore currently keeps its F-16 squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Maricopa County, Ariz.
“The United States deeply values our relationship with Singapore, and I appreciate Secretary Barrett’s consideration of Arkansas as a location for our important defense partnership,” Cotton said.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R- AR District 3, has “everything the Air Force needs” for this kind of training center, including a strategic location.
“It would be great for the airport,” said Airport Director Michael Griffin.
Cotton in the news release said he looks forward to ensuring Fort Smith is the chosen location.
“The reason Fort Smith has made it to this pivotal point in the process is due, in a large part, to the community’s enthusiastic support and tireless efforts,“ said U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. ”I am committed to continuing to work with state and local officials, as well as my colleagues in the delegation, to get this effort across the finish line.“
“If Arkansas is selected, this will be a significant victory for Fort Smith and all of Arkansas,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in the news release.