Four jets flying over the Madison, WI, isthmus


The 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field is an Air National Guard Unit located at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin. The 115th employs 1,200 total airmen and women, including 445 who are full-time. As an Air National Guard base, Truax serves as the training and drill location for the part-time men and women of the Air National Guard who, as traditional Guard personnel, drill one weekend a month and two continuous weeks per year in service to their country. Members of the Wing have been deployed to operations around the globe since 9/11. The base also has a homeland defense alert readiness mission component along with its training and guard mission, meaning it stands ready to protect upper-Midwestern U.S. airspace from potential homeland security threats 24/7/365.

The F-35 is a 5th Generation multi-role aircraft, combining advanced stealth with speed and agility. Three variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of jets for at least ten other countries. The F-35 is considered to be a replacement for the 115th Fighter Wing early model F-16 aircraft, which are expected to be retired in the 2020's. Bases are currently being selected to host the F-35 for training and mission purposes, which will position selected units for continued operations for years to come.  The 115th Fighter Wing is among five candidate sites which are under evaluation.  The Air Force will decide in 2017 if Truax Air National Guard Base is to be chosen as one of two Air National Guard bases to receive the aircraft.

Truax, and specifically the 115th Fighter Wing has been recognized as one of, if not the premier Air National Guard units in the country, and therefore has been highlighted as a candidate location to base the nation's finest fighter aircraft.  We believe that the 115th Fighter Wing stood above all other candidate bases because of existing infrastructure and airspace but more importantly the long-standing home town support of the community.   Decades of community support clearly indicate the 115th Fighter Wing is the right place for America's future.

Truax has several major advantages that make it the top candidate for the F-35. The base is capable of accepting and housing aircraft with minimal adjustments to its existing facilities, helping to keep costs down. Additionally, its strategic location between Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and near the northern border, make it an important post for the Air Force’s homeland security mission. Finally, its training airspace, located 50 miles north near Volk Field, is some of the best training airspace in the country. It is owned and scheduled by the Air National Guard, it allows for all types of necessary training, and it is close by, reducing fuel costs and maximizing pilot training time - all of which are rare in a single airfield.

The United States Air Force, with the direction and guidance of the Secretary of the Air Force, conducts its Strategic Basing process to ultimately select the two Preferred sites which will receive the F-35 aircraft and mission.  

In April 2016, the Air Force listed the 18 candidates -- each are Air National Guard bases which operate 4th Generation fighters (F-15, F-16 & A-10) with an 8,000 foot runway and training airspace.  In this initial phase, the candidate bases were scored on multiple criteria and narrowed to a smaller group of five bases were announced in December 2016.  Truax Air National Guard Base is one of the 5 candidates which will be further evaluated along with sites in Boise (ID), Selfridge (MI), Jacksonville (FL) and Montgomery (AL). 

The Air Force hopes to announce its selection of their Preferred (2) and Reasonable Alternative (3) sites by the summer of 2017.  At that point a draft Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared for publishing in the Federal Register leading into a public / comment review process in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

After final decisions are made, which is expected sometime in 2017, the decision is published and plans for implementation begin with aircraft delivery expected in mid-2022.

The 115th Fighter Wing and Truax Field are not only important to the Air Force as both a strategic location and training base, but incredibly valuable to Wisconsin and the Madison community and economy. The base and its employees contribute approximately $100 million in economic impact to the region each year.  Additionally, they provide all emergency and fire services to the Dane County Regional Airport, representing a significant value to the airport and taxpayers.

Currently, instead of next generation F-35’s, Truax Air National Guard base and the 115th FW trains with F-16 Block 30 aircraft. These are among the oldest F-16’s in the Air Force inventory and they are expected to be phased out in the near future. In order to provide stability to the base and its positive impact on the region and state, it is vitally important that the base acquire F-35’s now.

The majority of flying pattern work will occur at Volk Field, about 50 miles north of Madison, rather than Truax Field. Additionally, on the ground, as well as take-off (without afterburners) and landing, studies show the F-35 noise level is comparable with the F-16 and most legacy fighter aircraft. Finally, F-35 training makes considerable use of aircraft simulators. This combination will result in the community noticing little, if any, difference in aircraft operations and noise associated with the base if Truax and the 115th are selected for the F-35 mission.

Data associated with potential environmental considerations will be included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement which will be published in the Federal Register during the EIS process for public review and comment at that time of the basing process.

To show your support for the 115th and its efforts to acquire the F-35, sign up to be a supporter here.  Once you are signed up, we will be in touch soon with more information about how you can be involved!