First F-35 arrives at Luke Air Force Base


by Mike Gertzman

Video report by Brandon Lee

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 12 at 9:56 AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The first F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrived at Luke Air Force Base on Monday.

The F-35A is a fifth-generation fighter jet intended to be the Air Force's premier strike aircraft through the first half of the 21st century.

Several years ago, Luke AFB was chosen as a site to teach pilots how to fly the jets.

"This is a day that has been a long time in coming," said Colonel John T. Hanna, Commander, 56th Operations Group, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "It's a result of many years of hard work by countless people in the military and in the community."

The F-35A that touched down today is the first of 144 F-35A's that will be assigned to Luke AFB.

"Having F-35's here on the ramp ensures the long-term viability of our mission and safeguard the long term presence of the base as a community partner and an economic engine for the West Valley," said Colonel Hanna.

The Luke Air Force Base mission is to train the world's greatest fighter pilots.

Lt. Col. Michael Ebner is the Commander, 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The 61st Fighter Squadron is the first F-35A fighter squadron at Luke AFB, training world-class pilots in the Air Force's newest fifth-generation fighter.

He said the F-35A is a fifth generation aircraft. "It will bring advanced stealth, speed and agility, weaponry and most importantly an avionics system that fuses its data to give an abundant amount of information to the pilot so he can employ effectively and efficiently."

The F35A will be on display at the Luke Air Force Base air show on March 15 and 16.