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November 7, 2018
 

Top cadets from across Latin America visit Luke

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Senior Airman Ridge Shan
Luke AFB, Ariz.

Distinguished cadets from different Latin American Air Force academies listen to U.S. fighter pilots speak about mission procedure at the 309th Fighter Squadron operations desk Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The group was composed of the top two cadets from each of various Latin American air service academies from countries including Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

A group of distinguished cadets from the air service academies of several Latin American countries visited Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Oct. 31, 2018, as part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative program.

LACI takes the top two cadets from the academies of the Air Forces of a number of South and Central American countries including Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, and tours them across U.S. Air Force bases where they experience some of the mission, procedures, and culture of American Airmen. At Luke, the cadets learned about the F-35A Lightning II and the 56th Fighter Wing’s mission to train the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen.

“This is a great program, not just because it gives us a new perspective on the military, but because it helps us to build lifelong relationships and puts us in a good position as potential future leaders of our armed forces,” said Gean Louis Torres Herrera, Dominican Air Force cadet and class leader. “[Luke] is probably the best base we’ve visited because we got to see probably the most powerful aircraft in the world, the F-35. I felt honored to be able to look at it.”

A cadet from a Latin American service academy flies an F-35A Lightning II simulator in the F-35 Academic Training Center Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Cadets visiting Luke as a part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative program had the opportunity to fly simulators, walk the flightline, and speak to U.S. Air Force officers about their experiences.

The cadets visited the F-35 Academic Training Center, where they flew simulators and learned about the advanced capabilities of the F-35, before going to several fighter squadrons where they immersed themselves in the operational environment.

“Luke has a special mission,” said 2nd Lt. Carlos Mejias, 56th Operational Support Squadron airfield operations manager and LACI tour coordinator. “Training the future of combat aviation is a key to air power and air superiority.  Allowing the cadets to receive a glimpse of the level of dedication that Luke AFB has to our mission and how we all come together to accomplish the mission is definitely a special and rewarding experience.”
 

A cadet from a Latin American air service academy tries on an F-16 fighter pilot’s helmet with night vision goggles Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Cadets from air service academies across South America visited Luke as part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative.

The tour concluded with an open panel with several Latin-American and Spanish-speaking officers, who offered perspective on both Air Force life and the importance of joint international partnerships.

“This program is building lasting impressions and relationships with neighboring countries and militaries,” Mejias said. “Anytime we get to show others what the United States Air Force is truly about and build those bonds with future leaders, it is truly a win and a benefit to not only the Air Force and DOD, but our nation.
 

Distinguished cadets from different Latin American Air Force academies visit Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., as a part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative Oct. 31, 2018. The LACI program allows the top two cadets from each of various Latin American air service academies from countries including Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, to tour U.S. Air Force bases and missions in order to immerse them in U.S. military culture and establish relationships.

 

Distinguished cadets from different Latin American Air Force academies gather in the heritage room of the 309th Fighter Squadron to listen to U.S. fighter pilots speak about their experiences Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Luke was one of several base visits the cadets made on their cross-country tour, a part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative.

 

A South American fighter pilot and liaison to the U.S. Air Force shows a cadet from a Latin American service academy proper stick control on an F-35A Lightning II simulator Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The top two cadets from each of various Latin American air service academies visited Luke as a part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative program.

 

Distinguished cadets from different Latin American Air Force academies receive a brief on the mission of the F-35 Academic Training Center Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The cadets, the top two from each of their respective nation’s air service academies, visited Luke as part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative program, which takes the cadets on tours through bases across the country.

 

Gean Louis Torres Herrera, Dominican Air Force cadet and class leader, takes photos of the view from the balcony of the air traffic control tower Oct. 31, 2018, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Torres Herrera is one of a group of the top two cadets from each of various Latin American air service academies from countries including Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, who are touring U.S. bases as a part of the Department of Defense Latin American Cadet Initiative.




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