The latest in military aviation technology will be arriving at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort in the near future. Eighty-eight of the new vertical take-off F-35B fighter jets and a training unit will be commissioned to the air station.
The jets will be replacing aging aircraft. The fighter jets will be arriving in phases starting in 2012. Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. General Garry Parks is chair of the region’s Military Enhancement Committee. Parks says the jets translate to an economic boost for the Beaufort area and the Lowcountry.
The Military Enhancement Committee is a board housed under the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce to address military issues.
Parks says the new jets and the training facility will result in offshoot industries locating to the Lowcountry.
A group known as “Best for Beaufort” has expressed concern about the noise level the new jets will bring to the area. Parks says the final environmental impact statement concerning the jets was favorable, and he says he is sure that steps can be taken to alleviate the concerns the group may have concerning the noise levels.
Parks says one idea is to do “touch-and-go’s” at McIntyre Air National Guard base outside of Columbia. In aviation, a touch-and-go landing is a maneuver that is common when learning to fly a fixed-wing aircraft. It involves landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop.
Parks says as far as the military is concerned, the Beaufort Air Station provides an ideal location for nearly a quarter of the new jet fighters.
The remaining 312 new jets will be placed at bases in North Carolina, California and Arizona.