More F-35s for Luke AFB

July 17, 2013 at 2:04 PM
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LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., July 17 (UPI) -- Additional F-35A Lightning II aircraft will be stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., where U.S. and allied pilots will train on the aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force said assignment of an additional 74 F-35As will bring the base's F-35 complement to 144 aircraft.

The first additional Lightning IIs, built by Lockheed Martin, will begin arriving next year.

"This is great news for Luke AFB and the West Valley community," said Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. "The decision to base additional F-35 fighters here ensures the long-term viability of our mission and continues our legacy of training the world's greatest fighter pilots."

Construction is under way on base to prepare for the aircraft, with about $10 million of $57 million in projects already completed.

The Air Force last year chose Luke AFB, about 15 miles from Phoenix, as an F-35 training center following a three-year evaluation process, which included environmental impact analysis.

Facility and ramp capacity, range access, weather and capacity for future growth were key factors in the selection.

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