WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – After it was announced Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield will receive 18 new F-35 planes, 22News talked to Congressman Richard Neal about the news.

Congressman Richard Neal said he was pleased, adding that once again the base stood up, setting them apart from the competition across the country.

“I made the case personally to the secretary of the Air Force and I think General Keefe and his staff made sure we were well prepared for that undertaking,” said Neal.

State Senator John Velis said one way they helped Massachusetts stand out was through the SPEED Act. The state legislation that was passed last year is designed to make it easier for military families to transition.

“That’s what the Pentagon told us. If you want to be considered in basing decisions going forward, you need to change that. We listened, we changed it and that’s a big part of why we’re here today,” said Velis.

The F-35’s are equipped with advanced technology ability to detect and deter threats as well as and stealth capability. They will replace F-15’s which are coming up on 40 years old. The planes are expected to start arriving at Barnes Air National Guard Base in 2026.