U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) today issued the following joint statement on the U.S. Air Force's release of a Record of Decision to base three Air Force F-35A Lightning II training squadrons, totaling 72 aircraft, at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona:
"This is a proud day for the State of Arizona. We are pleased with the Air Force's decision to station three F-35 training squadrons at Luke Air Force Base, with the potential to add three more squadrons in future years. This decision demonstrates that Luke AFB will remain the Air Force's premier pilot training facility and underscores the unparalleled training opportunities offered in Arizona at the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
"We welcome the Secretary of the Air Force's commitment that, in addition to the three F-35 training squadrons, the Air Force will maintain both U.S. and foreign F-16 pilot training at Luke AFB through 2023. This decision is consistent with the Air Force's goal to leverage existing capacity at Luke AFB to the maximum extent. We also received assurances that the Air Force will station these 72 F-35As at Luke AFB regardless of the status of purchases by partner nations.
"This decision is the direct result of the decades-long and ongoing commitment by the State of Arizona and the communities and support organizations around Luke to a mutually beneficial relationship between the Air Force and the people of Arizona. In particular, we commend the "Luke Forward" campaign, which was developed by the West Valley Partners and Fighter Country Partnership to generate awareness and support for the positive impacts that the Air Force's next generation strike fighter will bring to our state. The Air Force specifically noted in the Record of Decision the impact of proactive efforts by the state and local community to manage noise concerns and to ensure compatible growth on land surrounding Luke AFB. We want to say thank you to the people of Arizona for supporting this vital mission.
"The strong support of our communities and the availability of unmatched training resources makes Arizona the favorite to receive additional F-35 squadrons. We will continue to advocate for the vitality of the active military and Guard installations in Arizona as the best choice for this new generation of Air Force aircraft."
The Air Force decision released today includes a plan to make another basing decision for up to an additional three F-35A training squadrons on or about December 2014. The Air Force has indicated that the next F-35A training base decision will leverage existing capacity and expedite decision-making through reliance on the current FEIS, with no Supplemental EIS required.