3 reasons Wright-Patterson is top choice for F-35 program

The process of bringing the F-35 Lightning II Hybrid Product Support Integrator organization to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will likely start within months, a senator told the Dayton Daily News.

Sen. Rob Portman, R- Ohio, said the consolidation of the current F-35 program could start within the next few months. The current F-35 HPSI organization was established in Crystal City, Virginia, at the F-35 Joint Program Office.

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“They do want to construct some things and do some work on the base,” Portman said. “I would guess in the next few months, we are going to start to see some consolidation of some of these functions that are done elsewhere.”

The Air Force announced last week that Wright-Patterson is the “preferred location” for the F-35 program, which would bring 400 jobs to the base. The final decision will be confirmed by the Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson after an environmental analysis is conducted.

Portman said some new facilities will be built, but the Air Force valued Wright-Patterson’s existing buildings that could be utilized for this program — cutting the cost of new construction.

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The Air Force’s decision to bring the F-35 program to Wright-Patterson speaks to the strength of the base, Portman told the Dayton Daily News. The selection process was very competitive, and Portman said Wright-Patterson won for three reasons:

1. "They like our workforce here. We've got a lot of relatively high-tech people who live in the Dayton area who are able to contribute to this job … This will be contractors as well as the active duty folks, mostly Air Force but some Marine, some Navy."

2. "They like the synergies with the Air Force Research Lab and also with the intelligence part of it NASIC and also with the Materiel Command, the other entities there that, combined, give them the ability to have a more efficient operation because they can contribute to how the F-35 is supported."

3. "They like the fact that we have a relatively low-cost standard of living here compared to some parts of the country. I know some people wonder about that, but Dayton's not as expensive as some other areas of the country. People like living here. It was a good victory for the base, and it is going to kind of fill out an important part of the base because the F-35 is going to be here for a long time."

Realignment of military units happens frequently, outside of the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The Congress-authorized process allows the DoD to reorganize bases.

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During the last round of base realignment and closures in 2005, Wright-Patterson gained 1,200 jobs with the relocation of the 711th Human Performance Wing and the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.

“We’ve won some and we’ve lost some. Overall, we’ve won more than we’ve lost in part because during the last BRAC we did consolidate at Wright-Patt and so there’s some efficiency you get from the fact that we already have so much going on at the base. It’s the biggest logistics base in the country for the Air Force and that helps us,” Portman said.

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