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Air Force holding public hearing about new military training center in Fort Smith

A public hearing regarding the environmental impact and the construction of a new military training center in Fort Smith will be held this week.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Plans to build a military pilot training center at Fort Smith's Ebbing Air National Guard Base are moving along, but not without updating neighbors on what's happening.

The Air Force is holding a series of public hearings about the environmental impact of the new center.

Last year, Fort Smith was selected as the long-term training center supporting F-16 and F-35 fighter planes purchased by Singapore, Switzerland and other countries.

The U.S. Government approved the sale of up to 12 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Singapore through an FMS program in early 2020. Singapore requested to co-locate its Arizona-based F-16 training detachment with its future F-35 training site. With the Arizona base reaching its hosting capacity in the coming years, the U.S. Air Force identified other locations for potential relocation sites. 

Air Force officials toured four other sites across the U.S. before making their decision. Over the last year, legislatures from Arkansas have promoted Fort Smith as a capable place for military training and readiness. 

The public hearings will give people an idea of what work will be done on the base. Some of those plans include constructing simulator training facilities, renovating existing buildings and additions to runways.

It's expected to have a $1 billion economic impact on the region. 

The hearings start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the Fort Smith Convention Center.

If you plan to speak at the meeting you will need to register online

RELATED: Fort Smith selected to host pilot training center

RELATED: New pilot training center could pump billions into River Valley economy

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