Study: Support for D-M could plummet if F-22s, F-35s replace A-10s
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Two studies on the future of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base conducted two years apart reached strikingly similar results on some issues, but varied widely on others.
A recently released study done by DM50 and the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance and another study released by Forward Tucson two years ago both concluded there is overwhelming support for the base in the community.
The DM50/SADA study concluded 93 percent of community residents show some support, whether it be strong support down to a bit tepid.
The Forward Tucson study done in 2014, concluded the support is 83 percent, but did not break it down to degrees.
Both organizations agree Davis-Monthan is a big economic driver in Tucson, although they may disagree on the extent of the economic impact, which is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion.
Forward Tucson believes it may be smaller than that, but it was not part of the survey.
When it comes to missions at the base, both are satisfied with the current A-10 mission, which has been stationed at Davis-Monthan for more than 40 years.
The Air Force said it will retire the A-10 in the future, but how far into the future isn't known.
It recently extended the mission's funding until 2022, after earlier announcing the A-10 would be retired.
What comes next has divided the two camps.
It's believed the new mission will be the new F-35 fighter jet currently based in Phoenix at Luke Air Base.
But it's far from a settled issue, or so it appears.
Forward Tucson has made a mission of trying to stop the F-35 from taking to the Tucson skies for a variety of reasons and feels its survey is good ammunition for its position.
According to the survey, support for the base d rops from 83 percent down to 59 percent when asked if the louder and riskier fighter jets like the F-22 and F-35 were brought in.
Forward Tucson also questions the methodology used by the DM50/SADA study to reach its conclusions, arguing the Forward Tucson study is more comprehensive, random and focused.
The DM50/SADA survey was conducted in Tucson and surrounding counties whereas the Forward Tucson study focused on zip codes in proximity to Davis-Monthan.
It also said the closer to the base, the more concern there is about overflight noise and riskier aircraft, which was not measured in the DM50/SADA study.
The Forward Tucson study also included risk in its survey, which DM50/SADA did not.
The idea of risk becomes more compelling, they believe, because of the two crashes in the Tucson city limits in 1967 and 1978.
Both involved single-engine jets, as is the F-35.
The A-10 has two engines and is considered one of the safest and quietest in the Air Force arsenal.
"We want Davis-Monthan to become a good neighbor," said Lee Stanfield, a member of Forward Tucson. "We don't want them to go away."
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