Share your comments on F-35Bs in Beaufort and get some goodies

Flickr user Andrew Kalat

As you're likely aware, we're in the home stretch of the F-35B battle between the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station and Cherry Point North Carolina, well the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce are, too, and they want to make sure they're doing everything they can to push this through.

So they'll be bringing laptops around to two area businesses where you can use a public websit to log a comment and, if you do it at one of the promotional events you'll get special discounts.

The events are from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 11, at The Office at 2121 Boundary Street in Beaufort Town Center and the Old Coffee Haus, 614 Paris Avenue in Port Royal.

And if those times don't fit your schedule, fill out the form on your own and post the results to the Facebook page "Operation F-35 Beaufort" for a shot at some local gift cards.

The full press release is below for the curious, and you can keep up with F-35B news on our topic page.

Operation F-35Beaufort rallies final push for new jets coming to Beaufort Air Station

With public comment closing later this month on the Department of the Navy’s final decision on the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter coming to Marine Corps Air Station-Beaufort, supporters offer an easy way to register comments at two local restaurants on Veteran’s Day.

The Beaufort County Military Enhancement Committee, working with the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, will have Internet access laptop computers available from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11at two locations.
Participating restaurants are The Office at 2121 Boundary Street in Beaufort Town Center and the Old Coffee Haus, 614 Paris Avenue in Port Royal.
The Department of the Navy’s preferred alternative stated in the Environmental Impact Statement is to base three operational F-35B squadrons at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort with two F-35B training squadrons and simulation centers.

Bringing five squadrons of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to Beaufort County will add $300+ million in new base construction, more than 1,200 construction jobs, and potentially bring 200 high-paying civilian jobs to the area to help with the training centers, said Carlotta Ungaro, president of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

As part of the promotion, both restaurants will be offering discounts to patrons who participate in the online rally. The timing is designed to celebrate Veterans’ Day, the Marine Corps’ 235th birthday, and the highly anticipated announcement next month about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter assignment.

“Posting comments online is the easiest and most efficient way for people to share their thoughts and support for this critical component of Beaufort County’s economy and culture,” said LtGen. Garry Parks, chairman of the Military Enhancement Committee.
“People certainly can comment online from their homes or businesses, or write a letter for the U.S. Mail, but there’s also a sense of community in joining others who feel these new jets are such an important part of our future,” Parks said. “That’s what this one-day rally is about.”

The Defense Department EIS and comment sections are available until Nov. 22 at Background information about the new stealth strike fighters and their impact on Beaufort can be found at
 The Navy’s preferred scenario divides the East Coast F-35B squadrons between Beaufort and Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, NC. The “B” model is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings. Military officials estimate that 80 percent of local take-offs will be traditional rolling takeoffs. Local leaders also are promoting the idea of an auxiliary landing field away from Beaufort where most practice landings could take place.
Congress and Defense Department leaders continue to talk about scaling back the purchase plan for the Joint Strike Fighter. Given that likelihood, the Navy’s preferred basing solution – Alternate 1 – brings great advantages for Beaufort County, said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Garry Parks, chairman of the Beaufort County Military Enhancement Committee.
In that scenario, Beaufort would receive the first batch of Joint Strike Fighters, probably within 48 months, with new Air Station construction contracts going out in a few months. If the Navy were to instead go with what’s called Alternative 3, sending eight operational squadrons to Beaufort but no training centers, those squadrons likely would arrive no sooner than 2020.
That delay, Parks said, could be devastating should military budgets be cut, F-35B purchases be curtailed, or the Beaufort Air Station be considered unnecessary.
On June 22, an estimated 750 area residents shared their support and their questions about the Joint Strike Fighter at the Beaufort Holiday Inn.
In addition to the Beaufort Air Station’s exceptional training areas offshore and the Townsend Bombing Range in Georgia, the region has a highly qualified workforce made up of former military personnel, said Kim Statler, executive director of the Lowcountry Economic Network & Alliance. With the Boeing project in Charleston and Gulfstream in Savannah, the Lowcountry is well positioned for aeronautics business, she said.
The arrival of the F35-B Joint Strike Fighter will help with attracting new industry to our region while bolstering existing businesses that focus on technology, aeronautics and defense, Statler said. The jets are expected to arrive in 2014, replacing the F/A-18 Hornets.
For more information about the Joint Strike Fighter coming to Beaufort visit or on Facebook, find Operation F35Beaufort.

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