The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing was officially delivered during a ceremony attended by dignitaries and hundreds of local civic leaders, wing military and civilian members at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., March 14.
The F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing variant, known as LF 5030, is the first of 144 F-35As scheduled for delivery to the base.
“The F-35 Lightning II represents the future of tactical aviation for the United States and our allies,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Robin Rand, Commander, Air Education and Training Command, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. “This program is built on a foundation of unprecedented international partnership that is embodied at the integrated training center at Luke AFB. Together, we will train the next generation of pilots who will protect freedom at home and abroad.”
Today’s official welcoming ceremony marks the delivery of the 35th F-35 to the Air Force and the stand-up of the eighth F-35 base. In 2015, Luke AFB will begin training U.S. Air Force pilots and eventually international pilots destined for deployment to combat units around the world. Luke AFB is the second base flying F-35s in Arizona after the stand-up of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, in 2012.
“The F-35 Lightning II will provide the Air Force and international partners a decisive edge over its adversaries,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin F-35 program general manager. “The game-changing capabilities of this 5th generation stealth fighter are now in the hands of the Luke team who are ushering in a new era of F-35 training. Combined with the unwavering support of the communities surrounding the base, the 56th Fighter Wing will make a huge contribution to the defense of our nation for decades to come.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least nine other countries.