F-35 Mission Continues to Evolve

56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs // October 22, 2015

As the world's premiere F-35 training base, Luke Air Force Base is constantly growing and improving to provide state-of-the-art training for F-35 Lightning ll pilots and maintainers.

The F-35 is an aircraft with an international footprint unlike any other in history. Currently, Luke has two F-35 squadrons but will eventually be home to six squadrons, all housing partner nations.

The 61st Fighter Squadron became fully operational in June and the 62nd Fighter Squadron received its first primarily assigned aircraft in August.

"The 61st FS is up, running and fully operational," said Lt. Col. David Lercher, 56th Fighter Wing F-35 division chief. "In order to be considered fully operational the squadron must have 24 primarily assigned aircraft."

At the moment, the 61st FS is home to two Australian jets and will receive many more. "The Australians will have 12 jets here by the middle of 2019," Lercher said.

The 62nd FS is on track to have eight F-35s by the end of 2015 and be fully operational by the end of 2017. They will be home to Norwegian and Italian jets.

"The two Norwegian jets are expected to arrive before the end of the year," Lercher said. "We should expect the first Italian jets to arrive this spring. Eventually, the 62nd FS will have seven Norwegian jets and five Italian jets."

Construction on the 63rd Fighter Squadron is in the works and should be open by the end of 2016.

"The 63rd should get their first airplane by March of 2017," Lercher said. "Turkey will eventually flow into the squadron with their first aircraft arriving mid-2018."

Luke should expect the fourth squadron, which includes the Netherlands and Denmark,  early 2019. The fifth squadron will be home to Canada and also open in 2019. The sixth, and final, squadron will open in 2022.

"Luke will eventually be home to seven partner nation pilots and aircraft and house a total of 144 F-35s," Lercher said.

Read the full article on Luke AFB's website.