08/16/2015: 62nd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base accepting its first two F-35 aircraft. There will be 18 total F-35s joining the squadron over the next year.
The jets will be flown by instructor pilots preparing for the first class of students in March 2016. The 62nd FS will include pilots and aircraft from partner nations Italy and Norway.
Credit:56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs:8/10/15
In a piece by Eric Hehns about the F-35 at Luke, the role of the 26nd Fighter Squadron was discussed:
Luke AFB “ has been designated as the primary F-35A training base for the US Air Force as well as for eight international partner air forces and several other countries purchasing F-35s under Foreign Military Sales, or FMS, programs….
The first twenty-five aircraft fill the wing’s first training squadron, the 61st Fighter Squadron. Subsequent F-35s arriving in 2015 will populate the second training unit, the 62nd FS. Eventually, the 56th Wing will have six F-35 training squadrons flying 144 F-35s.
The progress leading up to this point has been swift. The 61st FS and its associated 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit formally stood up in October 2013. The first F-35s arrived in March 2014.
The wing completed its 100th F-35 sortie in August 2014. The academic training center that contains classrooms and simulators essential for F-35 pilot training opened in October 2014. The first international partner aircraft, two Royal Australian Air Force F-35As, arrived in December 2014.
The progress continued in March 2015 with the first student pilot sortie, F-35 transition training for Pleus himself. The first substantial deployment of F-35s from Luke to another operating location came in April 2015 when ten aircraft were sent to Nellis AFB in Nevada. The 1,000th sortie was flown that April as well.
The first pilot training class began in May 2015. The first international student, an Australian pilot, flew in August 2015 as part of the second class of future F-35 pilots to be trained at Luke.
The F-35s at Luke are maintained by a combination of military and contractor support personnel. Lockheed Martin is responsible for maintaining partner country F-35s, which as of July 2015, consist of the first two RAAF F-35s at the base.
In a unique government/industry arrangement, the company will be responsible for initially maintaining all the F-35s of the 62nd Fighter Squadron. These aircraft start arriving in late summer 2015…..
The international aspects of F-35 training at Luke make operations at the base much different from other F-35 bases. Here, international partner countries train and fly with their US Air Force counterparts. And F-35s belonging to these partner nations will eventually account for about half of the F-35s in each of the six training squadrons at the base. FMS countries will also provide their own F-35s.
Instructor pilots for FMS pilot training will come from the US Air Force Reserve Command unit at the base, the 944th Fighter Wing, and its flying unit, the 69th Fighter Squadron. FMS F-35s will also be contractor maintained, though some on-the-job training for initial FMS maintenance personnel is likely as well…..