View Full Version : Luke AFB in running for the new F-35 home

10-15-2009, 03:26 AM
Campaign on to get Luke new fighter jet
by Bob McClay, Kevin Tripp/KTAR and Associated Press (October 14th, 2009 @ 12:44pm)

PHOENIX -- State and local officials are launching a campaign to promote Luke Air Force Base in Glendale as a training site for the next-generation F-35 fighter.

Gov. Jan Brewer, a leader of a Luke booster group and officials of 10 communities in the vicinity of Luke, on Wednesday announced the ``Luke Forward'' campaign aimed at strengthening Luke's chances of being selected.

The Air Force has already chosen a base in Florida as the primary training site for the F-35 but Luke will be competing with numerous other installations to be the second.

Luke's current main mission is training pilots for F-16s, which are scheduled to be phased out.

The Arizona base will be in big trouble if it does not get the F-35 training mission, Brewer said.

"It will probably be closed down. We will lose that $2.7 billion into our economy. And we will not be the premier base that trains fighters to protect us from our enemies."

Brewer and Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs said they want to preserve Luke's role as a major jobs-producer.

Luke is the largest fighter training base in the western world and already has a big impact on the area's economy.

"If Luke was gone, everything would be gone around here," said David Novick, owner of the Sage and Sand Grill just outside the base's main gate.

Barry Broome of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council said Luke brings big bucks to the Valley.

"It generates over $2 billion a year in economic impact, so that would be the equivalent of a major state university."

If the F-35 comes, it would bring $125 million in construction and jobs, Broome said.

"A big part of our job losses come from the construction sector, so keeping those construction jobs going is really important to Arizona."

The new jet also would enhance Luke's reputation.

"I think it sends the right message that this air force base continues to be on the front and most critical base for training and protecting the nation's defense," said Broome.

It also could protect Luke's future when Congress considers base closures.

"It's bigger than the construction," Broome said. "It's about keeping Luke contemporary. Keeping this as the premier contemporary air force base in the nation."

He added, "From an ancillary standpoint, Luke's impact on our reputation in aerospace is really immeasurable."

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the ultimate in high-tech military planes and makes a 21st Century leap past technology of previous fighter jets, according to Ward Carroll, editor of military.com.

For example, in the movie "Top Gun," Tom Cruise's character gets his plane stuck in a so-called flat spin. That wouldn't happen in an F-35.

Carroll said the flat spin "was a phenomenon that the Tomcat suffered from. And it was a function of pilots putting the controls places they shouldn't. In the F-35, you can't physically do that. The airplane won't let you do that."

Carroll said the F-35 has advanced digital systems that prevent a lot of pilot error. Another cool feature is voice commands.

"You have voice commands associated with weapons selection, with the gear status where your flight controls are, where the flaps are positioned."

With voice recognition software, you can literally tell the plane to fire a missile.

"You can be kind of a bad pilot and still shoot somebody down," Carroll said.

With cameras on all sides, he said the pilot knows where everyone is, so it actually makes war safer.

"I know that sounds sort of oxymoronic, but it's going to keep us from bombing our own guys to a greater degree than we are capable of doing today."

Forget dogfights -- Carroll said the F-35 can shoot down planes behind, below or above.

"The Joint Strike Fighter has cameras that are mounted in strategic places all around the airplane that allow the pilot to basically see through the jet, including down through his legs," Carroll said. All that information is displayed on the inside of the pilot's visor.

One Valley community -- El Mirage -- waited anxiously for Wednesday's announcement. It has asked the Defense Department to test fly an F-35 out of Luke.

"El Mirage supports Luke Air Force Base, we have been a longstanding good neighbor," said spokeswoman Stacy Pearson. "But we do want to understand how loud this is. If it's twice as loud, that might be fine. If it's 12 times as loud and you can't barbecue in your backyard, that's something else."

Pearson said, "The city right now is in its due diligence phase, trying to figure out exactly how loud it's going to be and what that means for the residents of El Mirage."

She added, "We've requested from the Department of Defense that, should Luke make the short list, a complete environmental impact study is performed, which includes bringing an F-35 out so we can see how loud it is."

Brewer, asked about possible opposition to the F-35 from El Mirage, said, "I'm hoping that the leaders of El Mirage will definitely be given the kinds of information they need in order to come on board with it."

Pearson acknowledged that people in El Mirage bought homes there knowing there would be noise from the F-16s that currently fly out of Luke. But, she said they have a right to know if that noise is going to get worse.

A final decision on the F-35 is expected in early 2011.

(Copyright 2008 Bonneville International Corporation. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.)


10-15-2009, 03:26 AM
I would love to see it fly by my dads house one day.

10-17-2009, 11:06 PM
i live right by Luke, i love the sound of the f-16's in the morning. now i might hear and see the f-35 nice