MADISON (WKOW) — A new report released Thursday illustrated the increased noise and other impacts expected to Madison’s northeast side if new F-35A stealth combat aircraft come to Truax Field.
A map included in the 1,099-page report released by the Air Force and National Guard Bureau showed the majority of areas hearing more jet engines would be slightly north and south of the Dane County Regional Airport, which shares its runways with the Air National Guard unit expecting to receive the new aircraft: the 115th Fighter Wing.
An estimated 2,766 more people will now be living within areas with an average sound level of 65 decibels or more if the F-35s come to Madison, the study found. Sixty-five decibels is the threshold at which people can qualify for sound insulation measures via the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, provided the affected property meets other criteria.
Currently, a little over 500 people live within areas experiencing an average of 65 decibels.
The number of flights going in and out of the base is also expected to increase. Airmen conduct 4,900 operations annually with the field’s wing of F-16s.
The F-35s would initially require 6,222 exercises per-year during the transition expected to last from 2020 to 2023. F-16 training would continue to maintain the aircraft’s alert mission on the order of 968 operations.
The F-16 wing will be changed out during the transition with the F-35s on an approximately one-to-one basis, the report said.
While the additional exercises make for a significant increase to the fighter wing’s operations, the impact is less for the Dane County Regional Airport as a whole. Air National Guard traffic represents only about a tenth of the airfield’s activity which is dominated by commercial flights. The additional F-35 operations will represent a three percent increase in movement on the runway, the study said.
The study evaluates five potential homes for the fighters across the country. According to the website dedicated to updates on the report, the Secretary of the Air Force prefers Truax and a base in Montgomery, Alabama.