Vermont Air Guard says local economy hurt if state passed over for new fighters

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Officials with the Vermont Air National Guard say it could hit the local economy hard if their South Burlington base is passed over for the next generation of fighter jet.

Guard Adjutant Gen. Michael Dubie, himself a fighter pilot, told a public meeting in South Burlington Monday the guard’s presence would be dramatically reduced if Vermont isn’t chosen as a location for the F-35 fighter plane.

The F-35 is being developed to replace the Air Force’s aging F-16s.

Dubie says that even if Vermont is chosen as a location for the F-35, the $53 million annual payroll paid to employees could shrink.

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The Burlington Free Press says the reduction would be even more dramatic if the planes don’t come to Vermont.

Aircraft from the Air Guard units in both Vermont and Massachussetts use air-training space over western Maine, where a proposed lowering of the training altitudes has created controversy including opposition to the change from Maine’s lawmakers and governor.

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