The New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing has made the list of bases under consideration to house the new F-35 fighter jets. The F-35's would replace the F-16's currently flown by the unit based in Egg Harbor Township.

The final decision of which two Air National Guard units and one Air Reserve Fighter Wing base will be home to the $100 million jets is expected by spring of 2018.

The Press of Atlantic City quotes federal officials pointing out "the critical role the 177th plays in both the Air Combat Command’s Aerospace Expeditionary Force structure and NORAD’s AF Aerospace Control Alert mission".

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, offered his support for the decision in a statement. “It is welcome news that the Air Force recognizes what we in South Jersey have long known – the 177th Fighter Wing is the premier Air National Guard facility.

The preliminary basing criteria for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter make clear that the 177th Fighter Wing is considered a critical asset in the planning and execution of national security decisions by the Air Force.”

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