F-35 FAQs

The F-35 project is an example of commercial greed at its most indefensible. It has no place in Madison or anywhere else in Wisconsin.” – John Nichols, Sept. 17, 2019

Talking Points

Safe Skies brochure – updated 2022

Download the Nov 2019 fact sheet

Also see: Facts and Fictions on the ANG Environmental Impact Study

F-35s in Madison: What Are the Issues?

Madison has been chosen as one of five potential sites to acquire a squadron of eighteen F-35 fighter jets. All F-35 jets will eventually have the capacity to deliver nuclear weapons. These weapons may or may not be stored in the Dane Co. Airport, but that information will not be made public. However, having the delivery systems in our city makes us a target. We must also weigh the economic and military benefits for siting the jets here against the potential for disruption and lowered quality of life for many Madison citizens.


Water and Soil Contamination

  • Construction needs to occur at Truax in order to locate the F-35s at the base. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring of 2020, but concerns are being raised that this will expose residents more PFAS and other hazardous substances.
    Information about PFAS and proposed construction at Truax
  • The Air Force has not yet provided funds to study or clean-up the PFAS and other chemicals that have already been used.
  • These chemicals have leached into the soil at the Air Force base. Madison has shut down Well 15 due to the presence of PFAS.


  • The F-35 will be four times louder than the current F-16s, and will fly 47% more often.
  • This level of noise can have a detrimental effect on a variety of people including those with PTSD, autism, mental illness, and other neurological and sensory vulnerabilities. Children will especially be affected.
  • There will be at least 292 people living in the 132 homes that will be in the 70-75 dB DNL* zone. There are 1, 318 households and 2,766 people exposed to noise within the 65 dB DNL* zone. , These areas are deemed “potentially incompatible with residential use” in the Environmental Impact Statement.
  • Some noise abatement funding may be available after a lengthy review process which would not begin until approximately two years after beddown is initiated and flights are stabilized. There will be an initial increase in flights due to having both F16s and F35s on base.
  • Noise levels at take-off and landing are at a level dangerous to children and vulnerable adults. Studies have shown effects to internal organs and to learning. Madison-Dane County Public Health Dept analysisWorld Health OrganizationAlso see Understanding the 3dB rule

*DNL is the sound level averaged over a 24-hour period. The EIS used this calculation to determine the zone for homes that are “incompatible for human habitation.” However, this number does not convey the immediate impact of the sound at take-off. The actual sound at take-off in the back yard of a home in the 75db zone is equivalent to a rock concert next to the speakers, and a close up power saw in the 65db zone.

Racial, Social and Economic Justice

  • A disproportionate number of vulnerable houses are occupied by low income and minority populations.
  • Children will be particularly impacted by increased noise levels, producing cognitive impairment, negative effects on reading and memory, and post-traumatic stress.
  • Medical studies have shown that noise has a far-reaching impact that can lead to stress, sleep disturbance, high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.
  • This level of noise can have a detrimental effect on a variety of people including those with PTSD, autism, mental illness, and other neurological and sensory vulnerabilities.

Other Pollution

  • No analysis has been done for hazardous air pollutants regulated by the EPA/DNR.
  • Jets are manufactured with military grade composite materials which pose hazards in the event of a crash. See Air Force study. An F-35 Fire would emit hazardous fumes over a large area, and require many times the amount of PFAS-containing firefighting foam to put out.
  • The fossil fuels used by the F-35s are diametrically at odds with the professed desire of local leaders to address climate change and create a sustainable community. U.S. Department of Defense is the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, with the largest portion of Pentagon fuel consumption being for military jets. See Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War
  • The F-35s use a toxic “stealth coating” to evade radar that is a paint that must be reapplied whenever it chips off. When this coating is combusted it is deadly toxic and is hazardous while being applied.


  • Dane County is responsible for all noise abatement.
  • A portion of the costs for Truax to accommodate the F-35 will be borne by state and local taxpayers, including clean-up of existing contaminants at the base and mitigation and re-housing for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. (angf35eis.com)
  • Costs could reach tens of millions to relocate people and soundproof homes in the area potentially incompatible for residential use. There will be no funding for abatement for the homes of the 60,000 people immediately surrounding that area, who will also be affected.
  • Each F-35 jet costs nearly $100 million, and each flight hour will cost $42,000. (Disquieting, Isthmus, July 5-11, 2018 – Air Force data.)
  • Wisconsin taxpayers already pay $201.33 million per year for the F-35 project.
  • The F-35s will only provide 64 new jobs which will increase the tax base by only $1.8 million. Investment in clean energy, public education, and health care creates up to twice as many jobs as similar spending on the military.

Nuclear capability

  • The Department of Defense 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, prominently naming the F-35 as a core part of its Strategic Nuclear force, with the B61-12 nuclear warhead designed especially for the F-35, a bomb considered “usable” by government and military officials. This public document could increase the possibility of Madison being an enemy target.
  • The F-35 and Nuclear Capability: Retired Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco spent 30 years on active duty in the Air Force, including as a delegate to four international nuclear arms control negotiations.
  • Defense analyst Pierre Sprey speaks about the nuclear capability and other issues in this video of a presentation in Madison on January 17, 2020.

What you can do:

  • Write letters to the editor, arrange op-eds, make group statements, make the media pay attention to our opposition to the F-35 program.
  • Contact elected officials: City Council, Dane County Board, State Senate and Assembly, and US Senate and Legislature.

US Senator Tammy Baldwin 608-264-5338 (currently a supporter of the F-35)

US Senator Ron Johnson 608-240-9629 (currently a supporter of the F-35)

US Representative Mark Pocan 608-258-9800 (non-commital)