Nellis’ Lightning Nexus

The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Ariz., conducted its first training deployment with the F-35A strike fighter, sending airmen and 10 of its jets to Nellis AFB, Nev., for two weeks, according to a release. The Luke F-35As flew training sorties alongside F-35s assigned to Nellis and Eglin AFB, Fla., over the Nevada Test and Training Range from April 4 to April 18, states the release. This exercise was an important indicator of the Air Force’s state of progress toward having its first unit of combat-ready F-35As available for combat around fall 2016, said officials. “Until now, the Air Force F-35 program had not moved this many jets and conducted sustained operations at another base,” added Lt. Col. Michael Ebner, commander of Luke’s 61st Fighter Squadron. “Operating away from Luke has been a huge success for the wing, Team Nellis, and the F-35 program,” said 56th FW Commander Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus. Luke, home to the F-35A schoolhouse, currently hosts 20 F-35As, including two Australian jets, states the release.