USAF names Luke AFB as candidate to host Belgium F-35A training unit

1 November 2019 (Last Updated November 1st, 2019 11:21)

The US Air Force’s (USAF) Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona has been chosen as a potential candidate to host a long-term Belgium F-35A formal training unit.

USAF names Luke AFB as candidate to host Belgium F-35A training unit
USAF captain Andrew Olson performs a dedication pass during the Melbourne Air and Space Show in March 2019. Credit: USAF / Senior Airman Alexander Cook.

The US Air Force’s (USAF) Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona has been chosen as a potential candidate to host a long-term Belgium F-35A formal training unit.

Luke AFB could host the training unit for up to seven years, starting in 2023.

A site survey at the base will be completed this year to evaluate whether it meets several criteria, including mission, capacity, cost, and environmental factors.

Once the survey is completed, an environmental impact analysis process will be undertaken.

USAF Secretary Barbara Barrett said: “Because of Luke AFB’s infrastructure and its experience in hosting international F-35 customers, Luke is uniquely suited to provide an optimal training environment for our Belgian Allies.

“Our partnership with Belgium has historic importance and will prove vital in our collective futures.”

The USAF has revealed that it intends to establish an additional permanent F-35 fighter aircraft training base to support the training needs of new foreign military sales customers.

In October last year, the Belgian Government selected the F-35 stealth aircraft over the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The $4.55bn deal includes the purchase of 34 F-35s to replace the country’s ageing F-16 fighters.

The fifth-generation F-35 stealth jets offer advanced capabilities and can avoid detection by enemy radars.

It also provides Belgium interoperability with Nato and other allied assets.

Meanwhile, the Luke AFB achieved a milestone earlier this week by surpassing 35,000 F-35 sorties since F-35 flight operations began in 2014.

In November last year, the base reactivated the 308th Fighter Squadron as its fourth F-35 squadron.