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Final F35 report

After a battle over jet noise that divided a community, the Air Force has issued its final decision on F35 Joint Strike Fighter operations affecting the city of Valparaiso.

What appeared to be a temporary compromise will now become permanent.
Laura Hussey "The environmental impact of the F35 has now been studied for eight years. Today's Record of Decision was described by the Deputy Secretary of the Air Force for Installations as a win-win, for the Air Force and the community."    

Before the jets arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, concerns about noise led Valparaiso to sue the Air Force, saying property values would plummet and the city might have to dissolve.

Susanna Abibula and many in the county were more worried about keeping the Air Force mission and its economic benefit.

Susanna Abibula/Valparaiso "They were having a rally, you know the mayor here in Valp to stop the noise. But we rallied against him, because that's the sound of freedom"

In 2009, the Air Force decided to limit takeoffs and landings over Valparaiso, while doing an  additional study on the noise impact.

When the jets started flying fifteen months ago, people got the chance to decide for themselves.

Chris Philipp/Valparaiso "It's really loud, at times it gets booming loud but....if you're on the phone you pretty much have to go inside, but aside from that, it's really not that much of a sacrifice for what they do"

The study recommended lifting the limits on takeoffs and landings, allowing the F35s free use of the runway that affects Valparaiso.

But the Air Force announced Friday it's keeping the limits in place, in their words demonstrating a commitment to being a good neighbor.

The commander of the 33d Operations Group says there will not be a negative impact on their mission.

Colonel Chris Niemi "The reality is the operations that we're doing right now, under the no-action alternative criteria, are largely what we would do in any case"

Laura Hussey "There are now 49 F35s at Eglin. Another nine are expected to arrive before next spring."