TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The Terre Haute Regional Airport has a shot at a big project. As we’ve explained, Hulman Field is one of the final five sites being considered for the U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Foreign Military Sales Training Center. Tuesday morning, community leaders made the case for Terre Haute.
This project would train international pilots on how to fly the F-35—a fifth generation stealth fighter jet.
Partner nations, specifically Singapore, are looking at re-positioning their current training center from Arizona. Tuesday morning, community leaders gathered at the Terre Haute Regional Airport to show their support and strengthen the case to bring this center to Terre Haute.
Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles was in attendance on Tuesday. He says Tuesday’s purpose was to strengthen the presentation to the selection committee.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett presented General Lyles with an official packet of support from the West Central Indiana Defense Network. This laid out all the different points making Terre Haute a desirable location. It outlines West Central Indiana’s many defense-related assets. It also included letters of support from elected officials, community leaders, and higher education institutions.
General Luke’s will take this information to his staff as they continue this process. Both he and Mayor Bennett expressed their satisfaction with Tuesday’s events and where they stand.
“What you see here is an extreme amount of enthusiasm and collaboration from the community that has a strong desire to bring the program here,” General Lyles said.
“I think we are in a great position to be able to deliver this and tell them our story while selling Terre Haute as the community that’s the best option for the Air Force to select,” Mayor Bennett continued.
Mayor Bennett emphasized how big of a deal this would be to our area. He and General Lyles laud out how this could benefit our region greatly.
“What we have to do is present the case. We have to show them that this is the best physical location. We have the higher education assets,” Mayor Bennett explained, “Terre Haute being a little bit smaller community than some of the other options provides a lot of advantages. It lowers the cost of living and the cost of construction. All of these things are important to the Federal Government.”
General Lyles highlighted the $500 million economic impact this would bring to the Midwest Region.
“It goes a long way with creating good jobs that helps sustain Hoosiers and makes the standard of living better in the Midwest,” General Lyles concluded, “I feel more confident today than I did yesterday with the collaboration and just the spirit of “can-do” by the citizens of Terre Haute. The Mayor has made it very clear that he is all in and we are going to team together to strengthen this argument so we can win this.”
An initial site survey will be conducted in Terre Haute by the Air Force in October. From there, a primary site will be chosen. Officials at the Airport expressed that they feel good about Terre Haute’s chances.