Air Force Answers Question About Afterburner Use For F-35s On National Guard Bases

The following is a response provided to Senator Leahy by the Air Force to his inquiry about whether the Headquarters of the Air Force was directing Air National Guard units to plan for additional afterburner use. The Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) has long said that VTANG “does not intend to fly more than 5 percent of takeoffs with afterburners.” An internal email from Air Combat Command shared with opponents of the F-35 in Vermont claimed a contractor had said noise studies for Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth should be conducted to consider the option for higher afterburner usage, but did not assert that there would be any changes for National Guard units. Senator Leahy inquired with the Air Force to ascertain if higher afterburner usage would be recommended for Air National Guard units, or if the reported email referred only to the Air Force Reserve unit basing study at Fort Worth. The Air Force confirmed that the Air National Guard would maintain afterburner usage of five percent or below, and any changes were only under consideration for Fort Worth and for the Air Force Reserve.

The Air National Guard is a dual-mission force geographically bound to individual states and under the command of its governor, with both Federal and State responsibilities. Guard units tend to be largely made up of individuals from the local community, who serve for decades and sometimes their entire careers with their state. In contrast, the Air Force Reserve is a Federal force always reporting through the national chain of command, which draws individuals from around the country with specific skills.

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