Tag Archives: Luke AFB

Kirk McClure being named an honorary member of the Luke Air Force Base commander program with Lt. Col Matt Warner, Commander of the 310th Fighter Squadron.

Kirk McClure named to Luke AFB Honorary Commander program

Kirk McClure, Director of Business Development for McCarthy Building Companies, was recently named to the Luke Air Force Base Honorary Commander program.

The Honorary Commander program at Luke Air Force Base allows members of the community to understand the importance of Luke, the Air Force and Department of Defense military mission. It represents a two-year commitment. Additionally, as an active Honorary Commander, McClure becomes a member Luke’s only community support organization, Fighter Country Partnership.

“As a son of a Vietnam vet and growing up the grandson of World War II and Korean War pilot who flew both the B-25 and B-17s, this is a huge honor for me,” McClure said. “My ambition to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps in the U.S. Air Force was cut short by my lack of 20/20 vision, but I still have a love affair with aviation and a deep respect for our military.  I am humbly honored to now be a part of the Luke family being selected for this coveted position.  I am not only representing McCarthy but also my community, and I’m proud to share our support of the Luke mission for not only training the best fighter pilots in the Air Force, but also for serving as a key economic driver for the State of Arizona.”

In addition to being a part of the Luke Air Force Base Honorary Commander program, McClure also serves on the board of directors for the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation and the Arizona Association of Economic Development (AAED). He is also a member of National Association ofIndustrial and Office Properties (NAIOP).  He is also the founder and organizer of the monthly A/E/C Golf Invitational at Grayhawk Golf Club, which includes a league of professionals that work and support the development industry.

He earned his MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (ASU) and also holds abachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Design, also from ASU.

Luke AFB, Sundt, WEB

Sundt to build temporary lodging at Luke AFB

The U.S. Air Force 56th Contracting Squadron recently selected Sundt Construction, Inc. as the general contractor for a new temporary lodging facility at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz.

The $8.9 million, 42,000-square-foot project includes construction of four single-story lodging facilities with 28 units, providing Air Force personnel with short-term, quality housing accommodations as they move in and out of the area.

“Our proven track record completing similar projects on time and within budget enabled us to stand out in the selection process,” said Sundt Vice President Herb Chong. “These facilities will improve the quality of life for the many military members, their families and guests who are part of the expansion at Luke Air Force Base.”

Sundt’s additional work in the military sector includes construction of Warrior in Transition barracks at Fort Hood, Texas; UEPH barracks at Fort Polk, Louisiana; combat aviation brigade hot refuel facility at Fort Bliss, Texas; and a flight simulator facility at Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona.


Goodyear backs additional F-35 squadron at Luke

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord was among a number of state-wide officials during the Department of Defense’s announcement of three additional squadrons to the Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II fighter jet program at Luke Air Force Base.

Since the DOD’s initial announcement that Luke AFB will be the training center for the F-35s, cities and community groups throughout the West Valley have voiced their support for the military community and Luke’s mission of remaining the premier base for fighter pilot training.

“We are very pleased that Luke Air Force Base will now be home to three additional squadrons of F-35 Fighter Jets.” Goodyear Mayor Lord said. “The support of Goodyear and the surrounding West Valley communities played a huge role in this decision and we will continue to advocate on behalf of Luke and our military families.”

“Not only is this decision good for the security of our nation, but it will also have a huge economic impact on Goodyear, the West Valley and the State of Arizona.” Mayor Lord added.

The first three F-35A squadrons are scheduled to begin arriving at Luke AFB next year. Over the next several years, Luke will operate 170 aircraft; 144 will be the F-35A while 26 F-16s will remain for foreign military training.

Goodyear is among 13 Valley and West Valley municipalities partnering in the Luke Forward campaign that generated awareness of the positive impacts the Air Force’s next generation strike fighter will bring to the state. Through that community support involving tens of thousands of citizens participating in public hearings, the DOD recognized the importance of keeping Luke as the hub for fighter pilot training.

Two brand new training facilities are currently being constructed at Luke in preparation of receiving the F-35A fighter jets. An operations building will open later this year, while the 145,000 square-foot academic center is planned to open in mid to late 2014.

“This is great news for the region,” Goodyear City Manager Brian Dalke said of the DOD’s announcement on Thursday. “We value Luke Air Force Base as a neighbor as well as the economic support the military community currently provides to our city. We welcome the expansion of F-35 program with open arms. Not only will the program be beneficial for the local economy, it will strengthen national security.”

Arizona Sunset - Future of West Valley

Valley Leaders Join Forces To Envision The Future West Valley

Leadership West LogoOver 100 Valley leaders convened on November 31, 2010 to develop a future vision for the West Valley in an exercise led by Leadership West.  Leadership West is a volunteer-led, non-profit organization that convenes, educates and activates proven leaders in business, non-profits and government to leverage their time, talents and treasures to enhance the quality of life in the West Valley.

Moving AZOne LogoThe “West Valley Reality Check” was free for its participants, thanks to the collaborative effort and partnership between Leadership West and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The program’s goal was to bring together leaders in government, business, non-profits, environmentalists, educators, neighborhood activists, interfaith groups, tribal and elected officials to focus on a regional approach to shaping our built environment. The event was a continuation of Leadership West’s annual West Valley Summit which was held in March.

By 2050, the Central Arizona region will have an additional 6 million people and 3 million new jobs, many of which will be in the West Valley. This exercise presented the opportunity for Valley stakeholders to influence how the region plans land-use, transportation and infrastructure while sustaining our economy and quality of life.

Leadership West Executive Director, Kathy Knecht kicked off the event by describing the organization as a catalyst for long-term planning in the West Valley.  The Reality Check model was designed by ULI, but this event was the first time where such an exercise was conducted with West Valley stakeholders.  What emerged from the exercise was an overarching theme of municipal and regional cooperation that looks beyond the current economic cycle in preparation for the next wave.

Deb Sydenham introduced the Reality Check model as a great opportunity to work collaboratively and cooperatively to help regions with visioning at least 20 years into the future. Don Keuth presented Valley growth trends and how this exercise will help establish the framework for future growth. Interestingly enough, only about 10 cities across the country have performed this activity but Phoenix is the only city that has done it twice. ULI Arizona’s efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in the “Connected Centers” strategy that promotes growth and prosperity.  These exercises represent a forward-thinking approach to identify a sustainable regional growth scenario and by doing so determine housing types, responsible land uses and a transportation framework.

MapJay Hicks presented the ground rules for the placemaking exercise in which participants use Legos© that represent various levels of housing and employment density and strands of yarn that represent major transportation corridors to identify the region’s growth patterns.  Participants used these tools in their groups to establish a 40-year vision with the understanding of the West Valley’s opportunities and challenges, including jobs, transportation, Luke AFB, higher education and the environment.

By keeping an open mind, being bold and creative and working together to find solutions, the participant groups completed their visioning exercise while maintaining AZOne Reality Check’s guiding principles of preserving open space, supporting current infrastructure by growing along existing corridors, connecting employment and housing with multi-modal transportation, creating new urban centers and infilling currently developed areas, and locating housing near jobs.

The collective group discussed barriers and challenges that might hinder the implementation of these future scenarios as well as policy changes that would be necessary to making the scenarios possible. However, the group clearly identified a need for the West Valley to stay relevant in conversations about regional issues by working collaboratively and speaking as one voice.  Leadership West did not intend this exercise to be the end, but rather the next step in moving this initiative forward by carrying the message back to each respective organization.  The Reality Check exercise provided a forum for West Valley representatives to use regional visioning and planning and discuss how we can promote economic development, plan comprehensive infrastructure, preserve natural resources, create a sense of place in the community, and engage the community and create political will to implement these visions.  Our common goal…leadership.

Photography by Cassandra Tomei

Cover Story – Into the Blue

Into the Blue

Decades later Luke Air Force Base continues its mission


Most would agree they get a thrill watching jets take off and perform maneuvers with Kenny Loggins’ vocals in the background, right out of a movie like Top Gun. Arizonans can experience that thrill first-hand just by driving to the West Valley.

Into the BlueMore than 60 years ago, the city of Phoenix leased 1,440 acres to the federal government for the establishment of an Army Air Corps training field, known today as Luke Air Force Base. Nestled in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by miles of desert, the base enjoyed years of solitude as it trained fighter pilots. However, Phoenix and surrounding communities grew at an astonishing rate, and the base found its once quiet location surrounded by a bustling metropolis. In an effort to stem the tide of urban encroachment, the base established the Community Initiatives Team (CIT) in June 2003, led by Director Rusty Mitchell in conjunction with the base’s commander, Brig. Gen. Noel T. Jones.

While Jones just joined Luke AFB in June 2006, he is no stranger to the Air Force and its goals. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980, Jones has served on Air Force bases across the country and around the world, including California, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, South Carolina, Spain and South Korea. He also commanded the 332nd Expeditionary Wing in southwest Asia during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In regard to urban encroachment, Jones says Luke AFB sets a standard for other military bases to follow. “I would propose that Luke AFB is the model for how to deal with encroachment concerns,” he says. “Over the last several years, Luke AFB has proactively provided the surrounding cities, county and state staffs with the information they need to zone for compatible land uses around the base. As you know, Maricopa County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, and as such, it is in Luke’s best interest to provide the information they need to ensure our capability to perform the mission is preserved.”

Mitchell, who has led CIT since its inception, agrees that the program is one of a kind. “The Air Force has identified us as a ‘best practice’ for the Air Force—something that works, something that’s good and for other bases to emulate. My staff and myself travel to other bases at their request to assist them in addressing encroachment issues and in some cases, setting up an office similar to ours.”

The wing commander at that time, Brig. Gen. Phil Breedlove, recognized the increasing pressure from developers in the West Valley and wanted to set up a full-time office that could provide a faster response to those needs.

“One of the common complaints of the cities was they wanted to help, but they just didn’t know what our requirements were,” Mitchell explains. Mitchell and his staff meet with state representatives on a regular basis to review past legislation and discuss the possibility of future protections for the base. They also monitor city council agendas and attend city council meetings when land, close to the base’s border, or noise lines is called into question. He stresses that CIT has no zoning or veto authority on any development. All his staff can do is share with the public and government authorities the bases’ compatibility issues and hope everyone’s best interests can be met.

Luke AFB hasn’t always had problems with development though. In fact, Mitchell can remember when the location was thought of as the most remote in the area.

“I went to flight school at Williams Air Force Base in the ‘70s and nobody wanted to be assigned to Luke AFB because it was so far away from anything,” he says. “It’s just incredible—30 years ago, Luke wasn’t just on the outskirts, it was out of town.”

But now, the base is surrounded by cities like El Mirage, Glendale and Litchfield Park. Mitchell and his staff have established solid relationships with the surrounding communities’ leaders and he feels they have encroachment issues under control.

“Whenever there’s development, there are issues, but we feel confident that we have stabilized incompatible growth in the West Valley as far as our mission is concerned,” he says. “The danger is there, but it’s certainly not getting worse. It’s refreshing and heartwarming, really, to see the support of all the cities.”

Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs gives the base her full support and says the personnel are like family. “Luke personnel are really members of our community,” she says. “They are involved in every aspect of our community—they are boy scout and girl scout leaders in schools, [they] volunteer hours to nonprofits. Too many times the personnel are thought of as being remote when in fact they are our neighbors…and they contribute a tremendous amount to make [the community] stronger and better.”

El Mirage Mayor Fred Waterman also supports Luke’s mission but admits his city struggles to find appropriate space for development, especially for schools. “One-third of our city is under their noise zone, so we’ve had to change the zoning immensely,” he says. “We can’t build certain things in different areas because of the potential impact on Luke.”

Mitchell says he’s aware of this dilemma and is working with the school board in El Mirage to find an appropriate location. “The attorney general has historically ruled that no school can be built inside our 65 decibel noise line, and that’s the problem El Mirage has,” he explains. “As you get closer to the runway, it becomes a safety issue and the state has determined that the risk is too high to allow schools inside that area.”

Financially, Luke AFB is a huge asset to Arizona. In fact, the base contributes in excess of $1.4 billion a year to the state’s economy.

“It’s like its own city,” Scruggs says. “They contract for a large amount of services and goods and those contracts are through cities throughout the state. Also, the personnel spend money here and many people come to visit, so it contributes to tourism dollars. Their impact is within all reaches of the state, but first and foremost, they are a key part of our nation’s security system.”

“We don’t focus on that as our main purpose of being here,” Mitchell says in regard to their financial impact. “We are the only active duty F-16 training base in the world, which is critical to our nation’s defense.”

In fact, pilots trained at Luke will often times be in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan within 30 days of his or her completed training. The base also trains F-16 maintenance personnel, whose expertise is crucial to pilots’ success.

“A big change at Luke over the last 10 years has been our requirement to deploy mission-ready war fighters into the war. We probably average close to 1,000 personnel a year deploying over to the war and we don’t get backfill for those. We’re a 10-man football team—everybody steps up and does the job.”

With the ongoing war, Luke is unlikely to be closed any time soon. Mitchell explains the base was only closed once, temporarily, in the late 1940s due to inactivity. After a recent reevaluation, Luke’s grades on military value and other issues are high enough to ensure it will not be closed. But, Mitchell and his team must continue to keep a close eye on development to ensure encroachment does not jeopardize the base’s mission, Jones says.

“I don’t like to deal in hypotheticals,” Jones explains when asked if development would cause a base closure. “I will say that based on the great support we receive from the surrounding communities, county and state, I do not foresee encroachment growing to the point where we would be unable to conduct our training mission. It does require constant vigilance and monitoring, and that’s why we have committed a full-time staff to ensure the community has the information required to make sure the developments surrounding the base are compatible.”

Mitchell agrees with Jones’ assessment and says it takes a group effort between CIT and the surrounding communities.

AZ Business Magazine February March 2007“As long as the state of Arizona and surrounding communities continue to do the outstanding job they’re doing now, recognizing the mission requirements of Luke, there’s no reason at all that Luke cannot exist,” Mitchell says. “If it wasn’t for the support of Gen. Breedlove and the subsequent wing commanders (Gen. Rand and Gen. Jones), we would meld away into the wing and I think the base would be in danger. [CIT] has been accepted throughout the Air Force as, really, the way it needs to go in the future.”



AZ Business Magazine Feb Mar ’07 |   Next: Trojan Horse