Weapons of mass deflection: Residents want local officials to take a stand against F-35s

Isthmus, September 26, 2019 – Dylan Brogan

Former Ald. Brian Benford and his 7-year-old son call the F-16 Fighting Falcon jets that blast over their east-side home “warbirds.” He says he and his neighbors are “strongly against” the Air Force stationing F-35s, the next generation of fighter jets, at Truax Field in Madison.

“We’ve rested our head on the notion that we are such a progressive community for years. This issue has brought to the forefront that we’re really not,” says Benford. “I’m deeply disappointed in our progressive leaders like [U.S.] Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Congressman Mark Pocan and sadly, our own mayor.”

Benford says it isn’t just that the F-35s are expected to be louder than F-16s and that noise will disproportionately affect people of color, low-income residents and children.

“What gets lost is that these jets are multi-million dollar machines that kill and maim. When you hone your chops as being a progressive and then don’t take a strong stance against something this obvious, it’s extremely frustrating,” says Benford. “Long after the Air Force decides, I’m not going to forget about the leaders who were silent. A lot of people in my community feel that way.”