The U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense announced today that Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona will serve as the new training base for the F-35A Lightening II.
In a joint statement Arizona Senators McCain and Kyl wrote: “This is a proud day for the State of Arizona. We are pleased with the Air Force’s decision to station three F-35 training squadrons at Luke Air Force Base, with the potential to add three more squadrons in future years. This decision demonstrates that Luke AFB will remain the Air Force’s premier pilot training facility and underscores the unparalleled training opportunities offered in Arizona at the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
“We welcome the Secretary of the Air Force’s commitment that, in addition to the three F-35 training squadrons, the Air Force will maintain both U.S. and foreign F-16 pilot training at Luke AFB through 2023. This decision is consistent with the Air Force’s goal to leverage existing capacity at Luke AFB to the maximum extent. We also received assurances that the Air Force will station these 72 F-35As at Luke AFB regardless of the status of purchases by partner nations.
Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, co-chair of the Luke Forward campaign stated, “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.”
The Air Force will initially place three squadrons, F-35s, at Luke AFB starting as early as next year. Additional F-35’s will arrive at the base in phases.
This announcement ensures Luke’s 56th Fighter Wing will now be the Air Force’s F-35 pilot training site as well as continuing F-16 training for fighter pilots in the foreseeable future.
This decision will have a strong economic impact on the West Valley cities with new construction for the squadrons, infrastructure upgrades and other maintenance. Luke AFB will receive $100-125 million from the federal government to pay for these projects. It is anticipated that nearly 3,000 construction jobs will be created.