Luke Named Home of F-35A Pilot Training Center

Luke AFB, Ariz., will host the Air Force’s F-35A pilot training center, announced Secretary Michael Donley. The base will bed down a total of 72 F-35As in three squadrons, according to an Aug. 1 Luke release. The first strike fighters will arrive between late 2013 and mid 2014, depending on production schedules. “This is a great day for Luke. 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,” said Brig. Gen. Jerry Harris, 56th Fighter Wing commander. The Air Force’s record of decision cited Luke’s facility and ramp capacity, range access, favorable weather, and capacity for future growth as reasons why the base won. Luke beat out Air National Guard sites in Boise, Idaho, and Tucson, Ariz., as well as Holloman AFB, N.M., for the training mission. Luke will also serve as an international partner training site for the F-35A. Eglin AFB, Fla., already hosts the initial joint F-35 schoolhouse. (Luke report by Capt. Tristan Hinderliter)