Security improvements at Cherry Point top Navy priority list

Published: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 05:04 PM.

“If you go out to the air station right now, you can get out of your car and just walk right onto the tarmac. You’re not supposed to do that, but you certainly can,” he said. “What we’ve been told by the Joint Program Office that’s in charge of the Joint Strike Fighter is that the Joint Strike Fighter security requirements and protocols are such that they are not going to base squadrons at an installation where you can just get out of your car and walk onto the runway.”

Before the F-35 squadrons can be based at Cherry Point, the appropriate security is needed, Norment said, adding that similar enhancements have been completed at Yuma, Ariz., where the fifth-generation stealth jets will be based on the West Coast, and are being done at Beaufort, S.C.

“We’ve worked very closely with the Marine Corps and with the Joint Program Office and our congressional delegation to move those enhancements up so that if it is at all possible to get them funded and begun, that they do that, and why that’s important is the sooner that those enhancements are completed the sooner we can have squadrons of F-35s stationed at Cherry Point, which also feeds into our overall strategy of increasing the mission at Cherry Point and enhancing the size of the fleet of aircraft squadrons that are there now,” Norment said.

The unfunded request list is produced at the commandant and deputy commandant level in the Marine Corps. It contains items the Corps believes are important but were not funded in the defense budget submitted to Congress. Should funds become available, Congress would go down the list to pay for projects.

Norment said placement of the base project on the list is a good sign.

“The Marine Corps wants Cherry Point to be a viable installation and they obviously want Cherry Point to have F-35s,” Norment said.  

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