Nearly 40 years of Fighting Falcons over Luke

The F-16 Fighting Falcon has been a staple of the flightline at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for nearly 40 years. The first F-16 arrived in December of 1982, as the base began phasing out the F-4s and they’ve been flying the skies above the West Valley ever since.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, flies over Phoenix during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Nov. 7, 2021. F-16 pilots assigned to the 56th and 944th FW, which train U.S. Air Force F-16 pilots, performed a 4-ship formation flyover at the conclusion of the U.S. National Anthem at the Phoenix Raceway to kick-off the championship race. Luke AFB continually bolsters partnerships with various organizations around Arizona, gaining support from the surrounding community.

The F-16 is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.

Using the approximately 77 assigned F-16s, including U.S. and foreign military sales, roughly 188 F-16 pilots graduate annually, and go on to join the combat air forces following completion of their training at Luke.

Prior to the arrival of the F-35, the wing had several fighter squadrons flying the F-16. Today, some of those now fly the F-35, with just two U.S. squadrons still flying the F-16, the 310th and 309th Fighter Squadrons, along with two FMS squadrons.

In 2021, pilots combined for a total of 9,898 flight hours in the F-16, with almost 8,000 sorties flown.

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