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We support Luke AFB

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by Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise, Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord and Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf

The West Valley and state of Arizona have long served as partners with the airmen and women serving Luke Air Force Base, Base Leadership, and the United States Air Force.

As local leaders in the region, we have worked closely with our state representatives and governor to mitigate or avoid activity that would negatively impact the mission(s) at the base. Due to this strong and long-lasting relationship, Luke has earned the right to be the premier flight training center for the United States Air Force since 1941. Most recently, the base was selected for, and is transitioning to become, the Air Force’s lead training base for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the world’s most advanced fighter plane. This will also include many pilots who serve for the countries, which are F-35 international partners.

The state statutes and local ordinances put in place in our state were an important part of the Air Force’s decision in placing the F-35 training mission. The state’s noise contour lines were developed in the late 1990s to include both F-15 and F-16 aircraft, which were both flown at Luke during that time. However, the state’s noise contours allowed for flexibility when accounting for future missions and are the basis for all zoning and development codes that ensure permits are issued for projects compatible with the missions at Luke. Arizona’s regulations are a model that the Air Force commonly refers to when asked by other states what actions they can take to be helpful in eliminating potential noise issues surrounding their respective military installations.

Despite the flexibility of these statutes, we were concerned at one point during the F-35 basing process that the Air Force was not considering the state’s noise contour statutes prior to their preparation of the F-35 Training Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which would decide where the F-35 would be based. This could have potentially created issues with basing the mission at Luke AFB.

However, Arizona elected leaders met with the Air Force and educated them about these state laws that would accommodate the F-35, and as a result, we were all thrilled when USAF selected Luke for the F-35 training mission which will bring 144 Joint Strike Fighters to the base. This is one example of our work with the state and how it has positively impacted Luke Air Force Base and our region.

As a critical contributor to employment in our region, with approximately 5,500 employees, it is important that we continue to work with the state, our Congressional delegation, and the Air Force to ensure the base encounters no issues that would encroach upon its mission. We take great pride in the airmen and women that live in the West Valley and look forward to a strong and sustained relationship with the United States Air Force.

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