City of Goodyear, Arizona
For Immediate Release: Aug. 2, 2010
Air Force selects Luke as a preferred F-35 training base
GOODYEAR, ARIZ. (Aug. 2, 2010) Luke Air Force Base has been selected by the U.S. Air Force as a preferred training location for the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, along with Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
A final determination naming Luke as a training base for the F-35 is expected sometime next year, after results of an environmental impact assessment which is now in progress are complete.
The decision by the Air Force marks a major milestone in the F-35 site selection process, identifying Luke and Eglin as the two preferred alternatives for the F-35 training mission locations. With Luke positioned to transition from its current F-16 training mission to becoming an Air Force F-35 pilot training center, the West Valley and the region as a whole would likely see the addition of new jobs and other economic benefits.
Luke Air Force Base and other military installations collectively represent one of the largest industries in Arizona, generating more than $9 billion annually in economic impact statewide. Luke alone contributes more than 8,000 jobs and $2.17 billion annually to Arizona's economy, according to a recent study commissioned by the state.
Additional background: This announcement was made prior to the release of the Air Force's draft F-35 basing Environmental Impact Statement document, which is expected to be published in the next 30 days. The Air Force is required to conduct an environmental assessment of each potential F-35 site before making its final basing decision. This federally mandated assessment, which is referred to as the EIS process, allows individual citizens and communities around candidate bases to provide input during the formal evaluation of each base. The Draft EIS will serve as the Air Force's notice of intent to proceed. Once the Draft EIS is released, in which Luke will likely be identified as a preferred site by the Air Force, public hearings will be held later this year. Once the public hearings are held and the comment period concludes, the Air Force will release its final EIS document that will provide responses to comments received from the public. After the Final EIS document is published, there will be an additional 30-day public review period. After reviewing comments received during this time frame and after considering any environmental impacts, the Air Force will making its final basing decision. It is anticipated the Air Force's final "Record of Decision," which will conclude the EIS process, will be made in early 2011.
About LUKE FORWARD:
The Luke Forward campaign was developed locally to send a clear, strong message to the Department of Defense that Arizona supports Luke Air Force Base in its mission of continuing to serve as one of the country's premier fighter pilot training facilities and to raise awareness of the critical role Luke plays in our national defense and the state's economy. The campaign was created by Fighter Country Partnership and the West Valley Partners, which include Maricopa County, and the cities and towns of Avondale, Buckeye, Glendale, Gila Bend, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Phoenix, Surprise, Tolleson, Wickenburg and Youngtown.
Fighter Country Partnership (FCP) Chairman Charley Freericks, who is co-chairing the Luke Forward campaign with Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, credits community support for today's decision.
"Local community support of military bases is very important back in Washington, and we know the tremendous Valley and statewide support for Luke Air Force Base really helped us," said Freericks, a senior vice president at DMB Associates. "We reached literally tens of thousands of Arizonans through our citizen and business outreach initiatives, and community support for Luke Air Force Base was overwhelming. There is no question that this strong level of support was a significant factor in the Air Force?s decision to site the F-35 at Luke."