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Luke AFB chosen for F-35 training

Aug. 3, 2012 at 1:26 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force has chosen Luke Air Force Base in Arizona as the service's training center for pilots of F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

Air Force Brig. Gen. JD Harris, 56th Fighter Wing commander, said the base will receive three F-35A squadrons –-- 72 aircraft -- as a result of the decision.

"This is a great day for Luke," said Harris. "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."

Luke Air Force Base is near the city of Glendale, Ariz.

The Air Force said the F-35s -- a next-generation aircraft that replace F-16s and A-10s -- will begin to arrive at Luke between late 2013 to mid 2014.

In addition to training U.S. pilots, Luke Air Force Base will serve as an F-35A International Partner Training site.

"The Air Force is committed to training our U.S. and partner nation pilots on this fifth-generation fighter aircraft," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff.

"Collaborative training on aircraft designed with stealth, maneuverability and integrated avionics will better prepare our combined forces to assume multi-role missions for the future of tactical aviation."

F-16 pilots and maintenance personnel currently receive training at the base.

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