New fighter jets at Luke AFB expected to have big impact in West Valley

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

GLENDALE, Ariz.  -- Luke Air Force base is getting ready to receive its first batch of F-35 fighter jets. And this is expected to have a big economic impact in the west Valley.

"Luke Air Force Base provides about two billion dollars annually to the local economy and it's going to continue to do that for years to come," says Col. Jeremy Sloane.

IN 2012, after much lobbying, the 72-year-old West Valley base was chosen to be the new training facility for F-35 pilots.

Now, with the Department of Defense downsizing, and even closing some military bases, the F-35 program will not only ensure the future of Luke, but the West Valley as well.

"It's an economic engine that would almost be replace," says Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers.

Luke was awarded $125 million in contracts to build the new operations and an academic training facility for the F-35 program.

Luke has already contracted $95 million out for construction of those facilities. 80 percent of that work is subcontracted locally.

In the end, a total of $290 million dollars will have been spent by Luke.

That's not all. "The F-35s will bring in approximately 500 to 700 new folks to Luke AFB," says Col. Sloane.

That means even more jobs and money to the Valleys economy for years to come.

The first F-35s are set to arrive at the base in the next few weeks. Over the next ten years, the base will receive 144 of the jets.