2014-10-16 Luke AFB in Arizona is a key facility for standing up both US and coalition F-35 forces.
According to Paul Giblin of the Arizona Republic in an article published 10/14/14:
Select fighter jet pilots will transition from a gleaming new building at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale to some of the grittiest locations on Earth, according Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, who visited the base to mark the completion of the $47 million Academic Training Center building late last week.
The building essentially is the Air Force’s F-35 flight school.
U.S. and foreign military pilots are expected train side by side at the building for decades to come. Air Force brass, elected officials, aerospace- industry executives, current and future pilots and support personnel previewed the building Thursday during an outdoor ceremony under clear skies…..
Q: When is the first class of trainees expected to begin?
A: Cameron, the Lockheed Martin exec, assured Air Force officials that the simulators and related equipment will be installed, checked out and ready to go for a full class by May 4, 2015.
The first wave of F-35 trainees will be drawn from experienced pilots already certified on F-15s, F-16s and A-10s, said Lt. Col. Matthew “Rip” Hayden, who will oversee operations in the building.
Those pilots will need about three months to become certified on the F-35.
Starting around 2016, new pilots will train on the F-35. Their training period will take longer. In addition, the jet is still undergoing testing. Once its full portfolio of capabilities is determined, the training program will be expanded accordingly, Hayden said.
Q: Why is Luke getting F-35s?
A: Luke is projected to the be the Air Force’s primary training base for F-35 pilots for 40 to 50 years. It also is slated to be the biggest F-35 base of any sort worldwide.
Luke is an ideal location because of good weather year-round and because of easy access to the vast Barry M. Goldwater Range, a gunnery range in southern Arizona where pilots can train using live weapons. Arizona also has weather and desert terrain similar to locations where F-35 pilots are likely to put their training into action.
Nine of the supersonic jets are stationed at the base now. Luke will have about 15 on site by the end of the year, according to the base’s spokesman, Capt. Ryan DeCamp.
The base is expected to have its full compliment of 144 planes within about a decade.
The twin-tail, matte-gray planes are expected to arrive one or two at a time as they are manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas.
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