The U.S. Defense Department has officially picked Luke Air Force Base in Glendale as the training hub for the new F-35 jet fighter. Luke is already the Air Force’s training base for the F-16 fighter.
The Pentagon will station 72 F-35 jets at Luke for training for American pilots as well as those from foreign allies.
Luke has been listed as the DOD’s first choice for F-35 training, though the military considered some other locations.
Arizona and Phoenix-area elected officials lobbied hard to get the F-35 training. Otherwise, Luke’s future could have been in jeopardy.
“The goal of our statewide initiative was to send a clear message to the decision makers in Washington D.C. that Arizona strongly supports Luke Air Force Base continuing to serve as our nation’s premier fighter pilot training facility,” said Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs in a statement.
“Arizona’s military industry is one of the largest industries in our state, and Luke serves as the anchor,” Scruggs said.
Luke is located in the West Valley and first opened during World War II. Its land is owned by the city of Phoenix and leased to the U.S. Air Force even though the property is in Glendale. Luke has been a desirable pilot training ground because pilots can train with live ordnance in the Goldwater Range area in southwestern Arizona.
The Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-35 is replacing the F-16 in the U.S. military arsenal. F-35 fighter jets will start arriving at Luke sometime either in 2013 or 2014.
The base will also undergo some runway and other improvements to accommodate the new jet. That construction will start immediately after today’s official confirmation.
“This is a great day for Luke,” said Brigadier General J.D. Harris, who commands the 56th Fighter Wing group at the Glendale base “Our selection for F-35 training ensures the long-term viability of our mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots, which we’ve been doing at Luke for seven decades.”
Eglin Air Force Base in Pensacola, Fla. is also serving as an F-35 training ground.
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In: Regional News, Weapons, Science and Technology
Tags: Luke Air Force Base, F-35, Training Hub, USAF
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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