Arizona leaders react to F-35 coming to Luke AFB


August 1, 2012

From Az.Com

Arizona leaders hailed the Department of Defense’s decision selecting Luke Air Force Base to train pilots on the F-35. Numerous local leaders took part in the Luke Forward campaign to advocate for the mission.

Governor Jan Brewer: “Today’s announcement not only ensures Arizona will continue to play a leading role in our nation’s security and defense, it also helps assure the long-term viability of Luke AFB and its status as a critical driver of jobs and local economic development. The base alone generates more than $2 billion in statewide economic impact every year, and its designation as a training center for the F-35 is expected to create more than $100 million in immediate federal investment. That’s good news for the thousands of Arizona civilians and businesses that will benefit from the additional jobs, wages, consumer spending and tourism dollars that will be generated as a result of the F-35 basing.”

Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, who co-chaired Luke Forward: “The military industry is one of the largest industries in our state, and Luke serves as the anchor. This new F-35 training mission will bring with it decades of tremendous military value to our national security and sustainable economic benefits to our region and state.”

Congressman Trent Franks, R-Peoria: “The Air Force’s decision confirms what those of us who have had the honor of living as neighbors to Luke have long known: the men and women serving at Luke Air Force Base are consistently the best of the best at what they do. Thanks to their dedication and expertise, Luke is the premier base for training the world’s greatest airmen and is uniquely qualified to carry out this vital mission.”

Rusty Mitchell, director of Luke’s Community Initiatives Team: “We’re the envy of the Air Force when it comes to community support. While there has been development that’s grown out toward Luke, the community has made every effort to ensure that the growth has been compatible with our mission. We cannot thank our West Valley neighbors enough for letting us be part of the community, not just in the community.”

Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf: “There’s a one-time capital build that will have a tremendous impact on the local economy, as it (base) uses local construction companies to build the infrastructure that’s going to be necessary for the F-35.”

Fighter Country Partnership Chairman Charley Freericks said: “Through Luke Forward, we were able to engage nearly 10,000 residents to attend public hearings, send emails or phone Air Force representatives in support of Luke and to get 21,000 citizens from throughout the state to register their support of the F-35 at … This tremendous support, from state and local officials, business partners, homeowners associations, residents, retirees and others, really made us stand out among the competition.”

Former state lawmaker and Glendale mayoral candidate Jerry Weiers: “As a state lawmaker I was proud to be part of a long list of people who helped bring the program to Luke. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mayor Elaine Scruggs for leading the way on this effort. We also appreciate the efforts of other West Valley mayors, state and county leaders, and of course our congressional delegation.”

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Max Wilson: “This is wonderful news for the West Valley and for Arizona. I would like to thank all of our partners whose incredible efforts to bring the F-35 to Luke have been rewarded. Working together, we made a tremendous difference, and I am grateful for the partnerships we have created and maintained to accomplish our goal.”

Glendale City Council Sahuaro District candidate Anthony Kern: “I applaud the Department of Defense for their decision and Glendale looks forward to being host to this important National Defense project. It is easy to point to the economic benefits for Glendale, but we should not overlook the importance of the project on America’s security as well. I am grateful for the positive economic impact this will have onGlendale. With a projected 1,000 jobs and $17 million dollars in tax revenue, the city will definitely benefit.”

Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott: “Knowing the future of Luke is secured for the foreseeable future is a huge win for Arizona and the West Valley. Hundreds if not thousands of Surprise residents signed on to the Luke Forward campaign. They joined me at the public EIS meetings to voice our support for bringing the F-35 to Luke. I thank everyone who turned out, the elected officials at all levels who united to advocate for Luke, and the men and women of the Department of Defense for listening to Arizona and making a wise decision that is good for our country.”

U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ): “We are pleased with the Air Force’s decision to station three F-35 training squadrons at Luke Air Force Base, with the potential to add three more squadrons in future years. This decision demonstrates that Luke AFB will remain the Air Force’s premier pilot training facility and underscores the unparalleled training opportunities offered in Arizona at the Barry M. Goldwater Range. We welcome the Secretary of the Air Force’s commitment that, in addition to the three F-35 training squadrons, the Air Force will maintain both U.S. and foreign F-16 pilot training at Luke AFB through 2023. This decision is the direct result of the decades-long and ongoing commitment by the state of Arizona and the communities and support organizations around Luke to a mutually beneficial relationship between the Air Force and the people of Arizona. We will continue to advocate for the vitality of the active military and Guard installations in Arizona as the best choice for this new generation of Air Force aircraft.”

Arizona Commerce Authority Interim President and CEO Sandra Watson: “This announcement is an incredible win for Arizona and reaffirms the importance of Luke Air Force Base to our state economy. The addition of the F-35 pilot training mission continues to bolster Arizona’s stance as a clear leader in the aerospace and defense industry and will enable our state to further retain and attract quality jobs and top names in aerospace and defense.”

Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett: “This is an exciting, and much needed shot in the arm for all of the cities in the West Valley. As someone who served our country in war, as well as a proud Arizonan, landing this agreement has been a top priority for me and our community. I cannot say enough of all the work Intergovernmental Affairs Director John Schell and all of the other unsung heroes who work behind the scenes in West Valley city government offices who got this deal done. Congratulations to all of us.”

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord: “It will have an economic impact on the entire West Valley. We have a lot of military personnel who live in our cities. We collaborate closely in the Southwest Valley in many ways, and it will certainly benefit us all by having the F-35 there.”

Arizona House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix: “This is an important accomplishment for Arizona and Luke Air Force Base. It has been a source of pride for our state for decades. Earning the F-35 mission is the result of years of collaboration. It is an honor that will ensure the base’s position as a leader in our nation’s security.”

House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson: “Luke Air Force Base has once again proven to be a world-class operation. It beat out at least three other bases to secure the F-35 mission and with good reason. The facility has a legacy of training our nation’s best fighter pilots. Luke Air Force Base is a testament to Arizona’s dedication to keeping the country secure. As a life-long West Valley resident, I know first hand the impact that this base has on our local communities and I commend all those who contributed to this exciting accomplishment.”

Glendale mayoral candidate Walt Opaska: “This is a great day for Luke Air Force Base and the city of Glendale. With the addition of the F-35, Glendale will receive a tremendous economic boost, with close to 1,000 jobs being created and millions of tax dollars generated for the city and state. It is an amazing opportunity for Glendale, a way for all of us to support our Armed Forces. My brother used to work on the development of the F-35 and my sister-in-law still does. I have been hearing for years about how great the F-35 is and I am excited that America’s top fighter jet is coming to the West Valley.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton: “Thank you to the Department of Defense for believing in Luke and our region. The F-35 program not only will train the best fighter pilots in the world, but also it is an economic investment for our future. Our community stood with one voice in full support of Luke and its future missions.”

Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams: “I am proud beyond measure to have been a part of this mission, to continue Luke’s 70-plus year legacy of training top notch pilots to defend our nation. This contract will keep the Luke tradition alive for years to come, creating jobs and pumping millions of dollars into our economy each year.”