Florida has long had a history as a swing state in Presidential and Senatorial political contests, but for a much longer period of time, Florida has had a history as a military defense state. Home to three or four different strategic commands, depending on who is counting, Florida’s unique geography has made it the ideal location for Army, Navy, and Air Force bases and training facilities. Also, with a large veteran population, many serve after formal retirement as civilian contractors. It is safe to say that the military has a huge footprint in Florida.
That brings me to what seems to be bubbling up as a concern for many: the fate of military funding and existing projects and missions after the election is over. On the campaign trail, the candidates all seem to take a status quo or generally “supportive of the military” position on every issue. After the election, the reality of governing may take on a different tone.
One of the programs that often comes under unnecessary scrutiny is the F-35 Lightning II. There may be a lot of fat in military defense budgets, but this seems to be one place where we need to stay the course.
The F-35 brings superior agility and greater firepower to our air forces of every branch, and its development has given us and our allies a definite edge in air superiority. Our pilots and the personnel they support with their missions all deserve the tactical advantages it provides.
For Florida especially, there is another reason to support the F-35. Both Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and Tyndall Air Force Base (Panama City) now have F-35 missions, giving them an extra edge in any future base alignment discussions. Furthermore, the overall supply chain of sub-contractors and manufacturers employed in the production of the F-35 provides thousands of jobs and billions in economic benefits to Florida’s economy.
Who knows what the future holds for defense spending after the election is over, but it seems a no-brainer that Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and every Congressman and Congresswoman, both Republican and Democrat, will be aligned in supporting the F-35.