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.”