WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker traveled to Washington Thursday to meet with Congressman Richard Neal and the Secretary of the Air Force as Barnes Air National Guard Base awaits news on whether the base will receive the Air Force’s newest fighter jets.

22News spoke with state Senator John Velis who says this comes at a critical time as it could also determine whether the base will remain open or not.

Barnes Air National Guard Base could become the new home for the airforce’s newest F-35A Lightning II fighter jets. The federal government is deciding between the commonwealth, California, and Louisiana for the advanced military jets.

Local state leaders saying this is coming at a critical time.

“If we don’t get the plane, we are no longer relevant in terms of the most up-to-date weaponry, the most up-to-date planes, and that would make us very vulnerable to have Barnes closed,” said Senator Velis.

If the base were to close, Senator Velis said it could have a huge economic impact on the state.

The state’s six military installations together contribute $13 billion in annual economic activity and account for about 57,000 jobs. Barnes Air National Guard Base contributes $198 Million and nearly 1,700 jobs.

There are some key factors the federal government is looking at in each state before awarding the F-35s, and that’s how the state invests in military families, including education.

“They know that if the families aren’t treated well. That’s going to be a strong predictor of if these service members stay in the military, so it’s retention issue, it’s a national security issue,” said Senator Velis.

To combat the retention issue, Senator Velis filed legislation called the SPEED Act, and it is meant to support military families who relocate to the Commonwealth.

“The Pentagon has let us know that it’s really really important in their determination on whether or not Barnes will be awarded the F35s. One of the main things that they are looking at and making that determination is if this legislation is passed, ” Senator Velis told 22News.

Velis added they are hoping to have the Speed Act passed and signed by the Governor during this session.

An exact date of when the decision will be made hasn’t been set. 22News will continue to follow this story and provide you updates as more information becomes available.