The F-35 took a large step forward with the selection of Luke AFB near Phoenix AZ as the base at which F-35 training will take place:
The Department of Defense has chosen Luke Air Force Base in Glendale for the new pilot training center for the F-35 fighter jets, city officials announced Wednesday.
The 71-year-old base west of Phoenix was competing with bases in Tucson, New Mexico and Idaho for the F-35 mission.
Glendale officials said the Air Force will station 72 F-35s at Luke for the training of both U.S. and foreign pilots.
"This is a great day for Luke," said Brig. Gen. JD Harris, 56th Fighter Wing commander at Luke. "Our selection for F-35 training ensures the long-term viability of our mission of training the world's greatest fighter pilots, which we've been doing at Luke for seven decades."
Air Force officials said in a statement that Luke was chosen because of facility and ramp capacity, range access, weather, as well as capacity for future growth.
3 F-35 training squadrons will be based at Luke. And it will continue its F-16 training mission until 2023.
It also brings a significant positive economic impact.
Glendale officials said Luke could receive up to $125 million in federal funds for construction-related projects and the F-35s could arrive as early as fall 2013.
The mission also would bring an estimated 1,000 direct and indirect permanent jobs and $17 million annually in local, state and federal tax revenues.