F-35 SQUADRONS ONE STEP CLOSER TO BEING STATIONED AT LUKE AFB WITH TODAY’S ACTION BY AIR FORCE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The U.S. Air Force has released the Draft F-35A Training Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report today, paving the way for up to six squadrons – totaling 144 aircraft – of the new fighter jets to be stationed at Luke Air Force Base. The F-35A Lightening II is the Air Force’s variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which will replace the F-16 Falcon and the A-10 Thunderbolt as the Air Force’s new multi-role fighter. "Today’s announcement is fantastic news," said Governor Jan Brewer. "Luke Air Force Base is well-suited and well-equipped for the F-35 mission, and I am committed to working in partnership with state officials and Arizona residents as we remain focused on our goal to see Luke receive this important designation." The EIS evaluates the establishment of the F-35A Pilot Training Center at Luke and the environmental impacts of the needed construction, personnel changes, flight operations, military ranges and military airspace. The environmental study is federally required when an air base is considered for a change in mission. The Air Force’s preference is to base the new training center at Luke AFB. However, no decisions regarding the proposal will be made until after the environmental impact analysis process is complete. The Air Force’s final basing decision is expected by summer 2012. With the release of the report, public comment meetings will soon be held in communities near Luke AFB. Similar meetings will be taking place in other U.S. communities, which were selected as alternative sites for F-35A training. Alternative sites were chosen prior to the Air Force selecting Luke as its "preferred alternative" site.  "This day has been a long time coming," said Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, co-chair of Luke Forward. "It’s the culmination of years of work by governors, attorneys general, our congressional delegation and countless state and local leaders, who have prepared us for where we are today. Now we are calling upon all citizens, businesses and others to attend one of the meetings and voice their support for Luke continuing to serve as one of the Air Force’s top pilot training facilities." Citizens will have an opportunity to comment on the findings contained in the F-35A Training Draft EIS report at the public meetings. Specific information on the meetings will be released by the Air Force. In addition to attending one of the meetings, the West Valley Partners -- comprised of 13 West Valley communities and Maricopa County whose sole purpose is to protect the current and future missions at Luke AFB -- is encouraging citizens to register their support of the F-35 training mission online by visiting www.LukeForward.com. Thus far, nearly 21,000 citizens living in every city and town throughout Arizona have registered their support for the new mission at Luke. Glendale is home to Luke AFB, which has served as the Air Force’s F-16 training base since 1983 and has a long and distinguished history in the Valley. Luke currently quarters the 56th Fighter Wing and the 944th Reserve Fighter Wing. Luke AFB also manages and operates the Barry M. Goldwater Range and two auxiliary fields for training. The Goldwater Range is the Air Force’s pre-eminent air-to-air and air-to-ground training range and is in close proximity to Luke AFB via military training routes, which also allows for low-level flight training. The Draft F-35A Training EIS document is available for review online at www.F-35ATrainingEIS.com.