City Government

F-35 Opponent Questions Air Force Report

This is a GUARDIAN guest opinion

By Kevin E. Cahill, PhD

Is the Air Force being honest with Boise?

The United States Air Force is proposing Boise’s Gowen Field as a possible Pilot Training Center and base for F-35A fighter Jets. The Air Force has just released a draft Environmental Review (Environmental Impact Statement or EIS) which concluded the impact on Boise and the Treasure Valley would be minimal, affecting 3,000 to 10,000 residents only. The study even purports the F-35A program would result in 2,000+ jobs in our area. If this sounds ludicrous to you, that’s because it is.

Let’s start with the economy. The Air Force states the new F-35A fighter jet program will result in “between 2,188 and 2,635 direct, indirect, and induced jobs.” That may be true in the sense the Air Force will hire this many people to support the program itself, plus some residual effect. But the relevant number is the net impact on jobs. That is, the number of jobs created less the number of jobs lost. The Air Force “analysis” does not even consider this possibility. That’s how the Air Force claims 2,000+ jobs will be created.

But just think of one example – tourism. Only a fool would think that the outdoor experience here in Boise – our river, our foothills, and our mountains – will be unaffected by the noise from F-35A fighter jets. As economists would put it, the demand for outdoor activities around Boise would be reduced. That means fewer dollars for our area’s camping supply stores, our restaurants, and just about everything else. And that means fewer jobs. With our local unemployment rate still well above 8 percent, we can’t afford to lose jobs, especially private sector jobs. The deeper impact on our economy, though, comes from out of state. Folks choosing to come to southwestern Idaho for a visit will likely stop doing so. Why choose noisy Boise when you can have peace and quiet in Utah? Worse, why would you choose to live in noisy Boise if you can live in peaceful Arizona? Think of what that does to our housing values.

The next big impact is the widespread impact on children’s learning and on lost productivity. The cover story of the July/August Issue of Monitor on Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, was devoted to the impacts of noise pollution. As any parent knows, distractions are, well, distractions. Anything that breaks a child’s attention span makes learning harder. So, not surprisingly, the best psychologists in the country and internationally found airplane noise resulted in a statistically significant negative impact on children’s learning. It applies to adults, too. The Air Force has an absurd criterion for saying noise is problematic – – 65 decibel (dB) day-night average sound level (DNL). That, according to the Air Force, is the level that makes things unlivable. Some cutoff. Anything less, the Air Force doesn’t even consider. That’s how the Air Force gets such a low number for those who will be adversely impacted.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. boisetaxpayer
    Feb 18, 2012, 11:24 am

    Good article. I say keep the jets out of Boise. There has to be several Air Force Bases in more remote locations that can accomodate the F35 Program. The less dependency Boise has on federal govt jobs the better off we are.

  2. No Jet Noise!
    Feb 18, 2012, 12:38 pm

    Mayor? What the hell are you trying to do to us?

    Ada county? What say you? Much of the noise is over the county.

    Even if F-35 is not built, some other aircraft will be. The USAF needs a nice place to live near it’s training ranges. The officers in the training squadrons don’t want to base at Mountain Home because their wife and kids want to be in Boise for the better schools and quality of life. The USAF plans to expand Boise and close Mountain Home. The USAF will have squadrons here from all over the country, and from nations all over the world, to train at the high-tech training range near Boise.

    The noise is an obvious problem from any afterburning aircraft. But how about the air pollution. Aircraft like the F-35 and F-15 burn about 200 gallons of kerosene per minute on takeoff. They burn about 5,000 to 10,000 gallons per aircraft per typical training flight… yes, each aircraft. They want to make hundreds of flights per day from Boise. Team Dave is against my gas powered lawnmower because it pollutes the air… but he is OK with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel burned each hour of each day… there are no EPA devices on a jet engine… they actually blow unburned raw fuel droplets at some power settings… very very polluting.

    And Mr. Mayor, our gas prices are high in Boise because of the very old very small very slow moving pipeline supplying the valley with fuel causes the need to truck fuel/gas in. With the USAF burning an extra 100,000 gallons per day of fuel what will that do to local prices? They will go way up! because so much more fuel will need to be trucked in.

  3. Diane Sower
    Feb 18, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Let’s not forget the places in our country where these jets are now positioned. The homes in neighboring areas have been deemed non-residential. In other words, you can’t live in your home, and you can’t sell it. And nothing says the Air Force has to buy it from you either.

  4. chicago sam
    Feb 18, 2012, 5:59 pm

    130 decibles for 30 seconds and absolute silence for 30 more for an average of 65 decibles. Yup sounds reasonable to me. Thunderstorms probably have an average of under 65 decibles too

  5. Jet noise

    where do you get you estimates on fuel usage?

  6. No Jet Noise!
    Feb 18, 2012, 9:22 pm

    @ Rick, Do you have anything to add to this post? Do you have different numbers? Mine are rough from memory… and there are many variables which would change the numbers. Numbers can be found in aircraft performance manuals and online.

    These aircraft at full burner use about 100,000 lbs/hr. When loitering at mid & high-altitudes it’s much much less. They can hit an air-tanker to stay up for longer missions, but that is very costly, so fuel onboard at departure is cheapest. Airborne refueling is part of the realistic training exercises but are not the primary fuel source for short out and back flights.

    F-15E max fuel about 4-5000 gal. F-35 probably about 3000 gal. Goes up in smoke very quickly in combat/low altitudes… then hit an airborne tanker for more at least once then back to the barn. Rare to depart full fuel unless a loitering mission because it degrades performance.

    And before you say it. The F-35 noise will be much worse than the RF-4C… the USAF said so. F-15E about the same. BUT there were only a few RF-4Cs based at BOI and made only one or two sorties a day. They are now planning nearly non-stop sorties as a training base. Also a few acres of new concrete will be very cheap for them relative to their overall budget.

  7. No Jet Noise!
    Feb 19, 2012, 12:37 am
  8. Jet noise
    Dude get your panties out of a wad… I just asked where you got your numbers….don’t go on the offensive but I will add since you asked…..
    I agree with you I don’t think the jets should be stationed in Boise
    I looked on the Pratt & Whitney 229 page the fuel flow, standard day conditions is 1.94 pounds per pound of thrust per hour, simple math approx 56k per hour per engine about 112k per hour in seg. 11 so you’re numbers are pretty close.
    I also agree that the noise of an F15E is much louder than the bent wing bug smasher (F4).
    Now for where I disagree, or don’t understand.
    I would like to know your inside track on the AF closing Mt Home and expanding Boise.
    Your numbers are pretty close as I said where you lose credibility is when you start talking about not taking off with full loads of fuel and that modern jet engines spit raw fuel at some power settings.
    When a fighter jet lands one of the first things done between flights is refuel it, and in 15 years as an engine mech/ crew chief I never stopped fueling a jet before it was completely full. Trash haulers (cargo planes) and bombers do this, but real jets don’t.
    The J79 (F4) engine did do this… J57’s used on B52’s and OLD tankers used water mixed with the air/fuel which caused incomplete burning…. 1950’s tech the F4 problem was fixed before they went out of production, and the Bomber and tanker force was re engine a few times since then. As a jet engine mechanic/ crew chief on F111A’s, EF111A’s, F15E’s U2R’s U2S’s F16 C/D (block 30 &40) and KC135’s I can guarantee you that these engines do NOT spit raw fuel at ANY power setting.

  9. No Jet Noise!
    Feb 19, 2012, 11:50 am

    @ Rick: Then why does your clothing stink like fuel at the end of a shift. Micro-droplets blow out of even the best and newest engines… even the newest big fans… yes much much better than old smoky, but still some. Point to be made here is Team Dave is going to try to look the other way on the extremely massive air pollution.

    So Rick, use your knowledge to fight the problem and not the other posters

    Nobody goes into a difficult turning fight with all bags full, intentionally… unless the opponent is an Iraqi, Iranian, Libyan, Egyptian, Syrian or some other helpless commie-trained dolt. Or if one is just headed out to the range for a few hours of harmless fun. But like I said it’s cheapest to fuel on the ground. Again, point here is the massive fuel flows through Boise and air pollution. Noise is only the obvious issue.

  10. I dont know about the uniform question…. since I never stood behind a running engine…. not real smart…how long did you work on the flight line? or did you? The days of top gun type of dog fights are few and far between turning fights are usually gun fights… not many any more… and as for the bag point bags empty first not long after takeoff the bags are dry… besides in air to air they will only carry 1 bag… just remember jet noise is the sound of freedom….if you are worried about pollution limit the amout of driving the cars that have come into the valley in the last few years can drive….

  11. Noise and the F-35? The experience of Valparaiso, Florida is instructive. Where most of our elected officials in Boise seem inclined to welcome the F-35 in hopes of reaping economic benefits, Valparaiso city fathers took the Air Force to court because the F-35 overflights from Eglin AFB were so intrusive. There’s no reason for Boise to willingly step into the position Valparaiso found itself in.

    Timothy Hogan, PdD studied the economic impact of bringing the F-35 to Luke AFB in Arizona and concluded that the noisy jet would depress home prices in nearby El Mirage and exact a cumulative toll of $200 million in lost taxes and lost development over time.

    Extraordinary noise is not the only reason to say ‘no’ to the F-35. Remarkably, the design of the F-35 is a kluge of conflicting goals and, if history is any indication, could collapse under the weight of its own extreme cost overruns like several previous jet projects have. The insights of defense analyst, Winslow Wheeler, are useful: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program bears a striking resemblance to a legendary fiasco of the 1960s, the F-111 Aardvark. In the Afrikaans language, ‘aardvark’ means ‘ground pig’ a fitting description for two of the most over-priced, under-performing weapons systems of modern times.

    The recently-released F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Concurrency Quick Look Review verifies Wheeler’s conclusions that the F-35 is seriously flawed. The head of military procurement assembled a secret panel of experts to assess the F-35 and found thirteen flaws—not the least of which being that production is in gear before the design has been tested in any meaningful way: If Detroit built new cars the way the F-22 and now the F-35 is being produced they’d think up new designs, model them in software as best they could then crank up the assembly lines, looking to catch mistakes when customers started driving the new cars. If our F-35 pilots are going to serve as test pilots for a half-baked aircraft design they should get a pay raise.

    No less a military hawk than Senator John McCain drove a stake through the heart of the F-35’s predecessor, the F-22 Raptor when he and Senator Les Aspin led a move in the Senate to cut off funding for the F-22. The F-22 was conceived and executed in much the same manner as the F-111 and now the F-35. When unit costs for the F-22 ballooned to $350 million PER PLANE, Defense Secretary Gates and a small group of senators with backbones said ‘enough is enough.’ Despite a $65 billion price tag for the program not a single F-22 of the 188 produced has flown in any of the recent wars America has participated in.

  12. Now were getting a lesson in Afrikaans language and a lesson on the F111 a lesson of building cars what do any of those points have to do with putting the jet here in Boise…. oh ya… its just about mis/disinformation

  13. R U Kidding Me
    Feb 29, 2012, 12:17 pm

    What is wrong with you?? You make it seem as if the jet hovers over you and lingers for hours at a time. It is a JET….whoosh…it’s gone. As for Quiet Utah??? Hill AFB flies JETS! Arizona? Luke AFB flies….yup you guessed it JETS!
    Yes bringing in the F-35 WILL create jobs, not only within the Idhao Air National Guard but throughout the surrounding areas too. This is a GUARD Base. People with full-time jobs stay here…for years…long enough to actually retire from the same base. That being said they buy homes, cars, food, entertainment and well generally LIVE in the local area. Don’t tell me that isn’t going to help our local economy. Not to mention the base itself with local purchases from Office Supply stores and other merchants.
    Bring on the “noise”! Let them fly! If you don’t like it?….move, somebody will gladly listen to the sound of freedom for a few seconds as they soar over.

  14. Dear R U Kidding Me The Draft EIS concludes the F-35s will “whoosh” around the airport 38,998 times per year at up to 121 DB doing take offs, landings, touch and goes, and low level fly bys. This is a training base. That is too much “whooshing” for me. The source of this info is option B-3, table 5, page 13 of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement Executive summary. You can go to the Air Force website, and verify it for yourself.

  15. Docdolittle
    Mar 4, 2012, 6:33 pm

    Dear R U Kidding Me…KEY WORDS: AFB (Air Force Base), as in Hill AFB and Luke AFB. Gowen Field is not an air force base…and yup, you guessed it…jets fly out of Gowen Field, just not at 120 DB, and not round-the-clock. And no, I’m not kidding you.

  16. unfortunatly doc Gowen is an AFB Air Guard to be exact.

    Monty as far as your numbers go take offs yes, landings no,fly by’s no.. you dont land at mil power.. most touch and goes dont use burner either..
    We are all guessing really…since none of us have seen the -1 (yes it’s called -1) for the acft we have no idea what V1 or V2 speeds are or what alt and airspeed burner comes off… we do know 250kias is max in an aerodrome so they cant stay in burner or even mil power long and stay under the 250k speed limit

    EDITOR NOTE–GUYS!! Please contribute some facts, cut the speculation and the tech stuff. The rest of us grasp only a tiny bit of it and it not really part of the topic. It’s like having someone talking loud on a cellphone in a restaurant about who rude Aunt Martha was last week.

  17. ok no tech stuff… Monty you say it is a training base…whooshing is what they do at a training base, thats how pilots get trained by whooshing…

  18. ohh and they dont whoosh around the clock….in 20 years in the AF we didnt whoosh around the clock…even during war games… and training squadrons dont play war games… they will whoosh from prob 9am til 7 or 8 pm on most days…. they will whoosh late about 1 week a quarter… prob till about midnight those weeks..then the whooshing will go back to 9am til 8pm then no more whooshing til the next days whooshing starts

    EDITOR NOTE–You won that round Rick, but I still own the DELETE button! FYI, your comment count is now 140.

  19. No Jet Noise!
    Mar 5, 2012, 3:42 am

    @Rick, you are from the old days. Gaurd units and cold war squadrons often did the day-flights you talk about because their mission was different than now. (Also guard units with lots of old near retirement, high-rank pilots still do a lot of day flying. Shh!)

    The USAF does most of it’s work at night now. That’s why the shadowy dark paint on it’s aircraft. I dare suggest that an F-35 or any multi-role attack aircraft training base will be quiet in the day and fire up at night. Most enemy opponents have not yet mastered the dark, so they are sitting ducks on the ground for us at night.

    What the airforce will not tell you is that most of their ground-attack work these days is so safe it can be done with a cargo plane. There is little need for this F-35 aircraft with all the new drones and missiles and such in the development pipeline. McCain stopped the F-22; too bad he didn’t stop the F-35 also. Responsible spenders would keep flying the F-16 a few more years. It is still cutting edge, still being build brand new and sold to our friends.

  20. ok @jet noise…Ill shh easy way to come out on top…tell the other side to shhh… ya Im from the old days… I retired in 2000… you know back in the day

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