By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
A total of six F-35 squadrons will train at Luke AFB. The move announced by the Pentagon last week means 72 additional F-35A Lightning II aircraft will be housed in Glendale. The doubling brings the aircraft total to 144—known as the L6 Scenario.
Despite the sequestration impact on federal construction dollars, Luke has been spared as it spends a grand total of more than $118M to house the fifth generation fighter (AZBEX, March 5). The move to L6’s deployment means another $88M in construction—for a grand total of $206M in new construction and facility renovation.
Luke officials said that the new fighters will move to the base as the F-16 fighters are retired from active service. The influx of new Air Force personnel, support crews and families may help offset the 20 percent civilian pay cut caused by sequestration-imposed furloughs.
Officials had no specifics on when additional facilities would be constructed, but the Environmental Impact Statement for Luke said that $21M would be dedicated to new squadron operation facilities and up to$10M for facility renovation.
The Air Force’s initial decision to establish an F-35 pilot training center at Luke was announced in August 2012, following a three-year process that included an extensive environmental impact analysis.
Aircraft are expected to begin arriving at Luke in spring 2014, although exact timing will depend on production schedules. Construction on base to prepare for the aircraft is currently underway, with about $10M of $57M in first phase projects already completed.
The base, which has been training fighter pilots for more than 70 years, also enjoys tremendous community support.
In addition to training U.S. pilots, Luke will also serve as an F-35A International Partner Training site.