He takes issue with anti-OLF column

Published 9:54 am Saturday, January 9, 2010

To the Editor:

A recent letter by Dianne Layden (“A North Carolinian’s perspective on the OLF,” Jan. 6, 2010) contained factual errors that warrant correction.

Layden asserts the delay in the release of the OLF Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was due to uncertainty regarding the viability of NAS Oceana.

In fact, it is precisely because NAS Oceana is viable and will likely be considered a potential home base for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter that the OLF EIS was delayed.

As stated in the Navy’s Aug. 28, 2009, announcement, the delay is to allow for inclusion of JSF data in the OLF EIS.

This analysis will include noise and air quality impacts and use the best available acoustic modeling software to ensure the most current and relevant information is included in the document.

It will also provide the public the information necessary to understand and comment upon the potential environmental effects of the proposed action. The full announcement is available at www.olfeis.com.

Another particularly troubling claim in the letter is that “Studies even show that the F-35 can’t land at Oceana.”

I am not aware of any study which reaches this conclusion and if one exists, it is incorrect. Runway requirements for the F-35C are similar to those of other tactical aircraft such as the F/A-18.

With a 12,000-foot runway, NAS Oceana is capable of landing the space shuttle and is officially designated as an emergency landing site.

NAS Oceana’s runway can more than support F-35C operations.

Concerning the issue of noise impacts on personnel operating around the F-35, the most recent data indicates that noise levels associated with the F-35 are similar to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

My responsibilities at U.S. Fleet Forces include ensuring adequate shore infrastructure is in place to support current and future Fleet operations.

And while I will refrain from commenting on statements in the opinion piece that speculate on potential delays in testing and delivery of the F-35, I can confidently state that NAS Oceana and the proposed OLF are vital to the Navy’s ability to meet current and future Fleet requirements.

Richard Keys

Aviation Shore Infrastructure Readiness

U.S. Fleet Forces Command