By: Scott Anderson of the Madison Patch

MADISON, WI —The U.S. Air Force said Thursday that Wisconsin's Truax Field Air National Guard base in Madison will be one of two sites to station next-generation F-35 aircraft, beginning in 2023.

In a news release, Air Force officials said that deployment of the F-35 is "critical to the family of systems" needed to penetrate enemy air defense systems.

"Putting F-35s at these two Air National Guard bases continues our transition into the next generation of air superiority," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein in a prepared statement on Thursday. "It helps ensure we can always offer the Commander-in-Chief air power options and be ready to penetrate any enemy air defenses, hold any target at risk and go when and where the president tells us to go. We're the options folks. The F-35 is critical to the family of systems we need to accomplish this mission for the nation now and in the future."

In an undated letter submitted to General David L. Goldfein, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, congressmen Paul Ryan, Mark Pocan, Reid Ribble, James Sensenbrenner, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, Sean Duffy and Glenn Grothman stated that "The capabilities and assets of the 115th Fighter Wing and Truax Air National Guard Base include in their unique ability to provide tremendous airspace, that it schedules and controls, over its network of integrated ranges and its unencumbered Military Operational Airspace."

The Air Force expects the F-35s to begin arriving at Truax Field in early 2023. The Air Force also evaluated Gowen Field Air Force Base in Idaho, Selfridge Air Force Base in Michigan and the Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida. The Air Force said those bases were reasonable alternatives, but not preferred.

"This is a big day for Wisconsin's military community and the whole region. The Air Force agrees that the great men and women of the Wisconsin Air National Guard are uniquely prepared to host the F-35," Speaker Paul Ryan said in a prepared statement. "This decision boosts the Truax base, which is already such an integral part of the area and contributes a great deal to our national security. I want to congratulate all the people in the community who worked tirelessly to make this possible, but most importantly the men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing, who represent us with integrity and excellence every single day."