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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Luke AFB Remains Top Contender for F-35 Pilot Training Center

  • January 22, 2012
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Luke Air Force Base, located outside of Phoenix, remains the Air Force’s top choice to become a training home for F-35 Lightning II pilots, according to the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) the Air Force released Friday.

The main impact of placing 72 F-35 training aircraft at Luke would be elevated noise levels, primarily from low-flying aircraft, reported azcentral.com. To accommodate the new training center, Luke would require hangars and other facilities to be built at a cost of $178 million.

Local officials applauded the report, as establishing a Joint Strike Fighter school at Luke would secure the installation’s future after is F-16s are phased out.

No final decisions about the training center’s location will be made until after the environmental impact analysis is complete, expected later this summer. The draft environmental impact statement for the F-35A pilot training center opens a 45-day public comment period ending March 14. In addition to Luke, officials are considering Boise Air Terminal Airport Air Guard Station, Idaho; Holloman AFB, N.M.; and Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Ariz.

If selected, Luke would become the secondary training site for the Joint Strike Fighter. Eglin AFB, Fla., has been selected as the primary pilot training site. Luke’s 56th Fighter Wing currently has 135 F-16 fighters and graduates more than 400 fighter pilots a year. It is the world’s largest F-16 base.

To read the EIS, visit the Air Force website.

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