Luke Air Force Base could soon become home base to several dozen joint strike fighter jets.
The U.S. Air Force has named Luke Air Force Base as the "preferred alternative" for the placement of a pilot training center, with 72 F35A training aircraft.
According to a U.S. Air Force press release, the aircraft is "essential to the nation's security strategy, and the purpose of the training center is to "train pilots and personnel to safely and effectively operate F-35A aircraft."
SEN. MCCAIN REACTS
"I applaud the U.S. Air Force's decision to maintain Luke Air Force Base as the preferred alternative for the basing of up to six F-35A Lightning II training squadrons," said Sen. John McCain.
"This mission can continue Luke's role as the Air Force's premiere pilot training facility and underscores the unparalleled training opportunities offered in Arizona at the Barry M. Goldwater Range," he added.
"This decision reflects the strong, decades-long and on-going commitment of the State of Arizona, and the communities and support organizations around Luke, to a mutually beneficial relationship between the Air Force and all Arizonans," said McCain.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
While the Luke Air Force Base is under consideration for the training center, the U.S. Air Force must first review an Environmental impact Statement to determine how the training center and associated construction, renovation, and training activities could affect the environment.
A final decision is expected in July.
OTHER TRAINING CENTER POSSIBILITIES
Other potential locations for the training center include the Boise Air Terminal Airport Air Guard Station, also known as Gowen Field, Idaho; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.; and Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Ariz.
"Over the next two months, the citizens of Arizona will have an opportunity to participate in hearings and to provide comments to the Air Force about the basing of F-35s in our state," McCain said.
According to an Air Force press release, four public hearings near Luke Air Force Base will be held to inform the public and receive public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
All hearings include an open house information session from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a presentation and formal public comment session from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Representatives from the Air Force will be available during the open house session to provide information and to answer questions related to the Draft EIS.
Public hearings will be held:
Open House Information Session: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Presentation/Formal Comment Session: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Date: Feb. 13, 2012
Location: The Wigwam, Wigwam Ballroom
300 E. Wigwam Blvd.
Litchfield Park, AZ 85340
Date: Feb. 14, 2012
Location: El Mirage Elementary School Gym
13500 N. El Mirage Road
El Mirage, AZ 85335
Date: Feb. 15, 2012
Location: Auditorium at Sundial Recreation Center
14801 N. 103rd Ave.
Sun City, AZ 85351
Date: Feb. 16, 2012
Location: Gila Bend Unified School District Cafeteria
308 N. Martin Ave.
Gila Bend, AZ 85337