US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) announced Thursday evening that a Marine Corps base in Beaufort would be home to the next generation of fighter planes.
Graham said the Navy decided to adopt Alternative 1, with regards to the planes’ deployment. That option would house three new squadrons of F-35B Lightning II planes at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort (MCAS Beaufort). It would also create a training center at MCAS Beaufort for pilots learning how to fly the most advanced planes in the Corps.
In a statement, Graham said the news was important for the base’s future.
This decision…will ensure that MCAS Beaufort will be a viable and integral part of the Marine Corps and our national defense as far as the eye can see. Christmas came early this year.
The F-35B model is a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) plane specially designed for the Marine Corps, which frequently operates aboard ships and in tight places.
Retired Marine Corps General Garry Parks helped lobby for the planes on behalf of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. In an interview with SCRN in October, he said landing the planes would help secure the base’s future the next time that the Base Realignment Commission decides which military installations to close.
There’s nothing that “BRAC-proofs” a community or an installation. But it will help…because it’ll be the only site on the East Coast where pilots will be trained for the Marine Corps.
US Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) was a strong advocate for MCAS Beaufort, which is located in his district. Wilson says the expansion for the new Pilot Training Center could help create 1,500 jobs.
The Department of the Navy had several options to choose from and I am thrilled military leaders chose the option that makes the most logistical sense and greatly benefits this historic Lowcountry community.
SCRN will have more coverage on this announcement Friday.