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Peters Statement on the Air Force’s New International F-35 Mission Basing Decision

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, today released the following statement on the news that the Air Force has selected Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Arkansas instead of Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, MI as the location for new F-35 and F-16 missions:

“There are many important, unanswered questions about how and why the Air Force made this decision. I have repeatedly pressed for a decision based on fairness and merits, and I’m demanding answers and full transparency from the Air Force and Biden Administration about why Selfridge Air National Guard Base was not chosen. There is no question that Selfridge stood out as the clear choice to host a new training mission because of its facilities, capabilities and assets for our national security, and I question the conclusion that the Air Force reached. It’s critical they explain all the factors that went into this decision. I will be fighting to get to the bottom of this decision — Michiganders and servicemembers deserve nothing less.”

Selfridge would be well positioned to host a new mission due to several factors: it has the infrastructure to host a new mission at minimal cost and with only slight facility modifications needed. Selfridge has strong community support with Southeast Michigan and Macomb County home to defense contractors and suppliers that are already building components for the F-35 and are ready to help maintain these aircraft for the long run. Additionally Michigan boasts the largest airspace complex east of the Mississippi River. This would enhance training opportunities for our national security.

Throughout his time in Congress, Peters has been a strong advocate for providing additional resources and support for Selfridge, including to be a potential host for a new F-35 mission. In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with the Air Force Secretary nominee Frank Kendall in May, Peters highlighted Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan as an ideal host to these new missions. In March 2021, he initiated a call with the Acting Secretary of the Air Force to encourage the Department of Defense to select Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, Michigan as the new location for an F-35 training center for our international partners. Earlier in March, Peters joined Senator Stabenow in leading the Michigan delegation in outlining the benefits of selecting Selfridge for the mission in a letter to Acting Secretary Roth. The delegation also made a similar push to former Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett in a December 2020 letter.