Luke AFB, Arizona
Luke Air Force Base is located in Maricopa County, Arizona and is approximately thirty miles west-northwest from central Phoenix. The geographical coordinates are 112°22'W longitude and 33°32'N latitude. The field elevation is 1090 feet above mean sea level, and the base's parallel runways are oriented 030° - 210°. Luke AFB is located approximately 20 miles west of Phoenix Arizona. The City of Glendale has annexed Luke as part of their municipality. The base is physically located 10-12 miles from Glendale proper and the city of Peoria. There are also several small rural cities surrounding the base.
Luke AFB has served as an airfield for more than 50 years acting as the base for a wide range of aircraft from the AT-6 to the F-16. Luke Air Force Base is the largest fighter training base in the western world located in the 5th largest metropolitan area in the United States. Boasting more than 200 aircraft and 7,000 military and reserve and 1,500 civilian employees the base produced nearly 50,000 pilots for America's most advanced fighters since 1941.
The 56th Range Management Office is responsible for all environmental issues and flight operations associated with the eastern segment of the Goldwater Range. The RMO consists of pilots, archaeologists, biologists, engineers, airspace managers, and quality assurance evaluators who work with Air Force and other government agency officials to preserve, protect, and enhance the Barry M. Goldwater Range.
Luke Air Force Base is named for the first aviator to receive the Medal of Honor- Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Born in Phoenix in 1897, the "Arizona Balloon Buster" scored 18 aerial victories during World War I (14 of these German observation balloons) in the skies over France before being killed, at age 21, on Sept. 29, 1918.
In 1940, the U.S. Army sent a representative to Arizona to choose a site for an Army Air Corps training field for advanced training in conventional fighter aircraft. The city of Phoenix bought 1,440 acres of land which they leased to the government at $1 a year effective March 24, 1941. On March 29, 1941, the Del. E. Webb Construction Co. began excavation for the first building at what was know then as Litchfield Park Air Base. Another base known as Luke Field, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, released its name when the base was transferred to the Navy in June 1941, and the fledgling Arizona base was called Luke Field at the request of its first commander, Lt. Col. Ennis C. Whitehead, who went on to become a lieutenant general as commander of Air Defense Command in 1950.
The first class of 45 students, Class 41 F, arrived June 6, 1941 to begin advanced flight training in the AT-6, although only a few essential buildings had been completed. Flying out of Sky Harbor Airport until the Luke runways were ready, pilots received 10 weeks of instruction and the first class graduated Aug. 15, 1941. Capt. Barry Goldwater served as director of ground training the following year.
During World War II, Luke was the largest fighter training base in the Air Corps, graduating more than 12,000 fighter pilots from advanced and operational courses in the AT-6, P-40, P-51 and P-38, earning the nickname, "Home of the Fighter Pilot." By Feb. 7, 1944, pilots at Luke had achieved a million hours of flying time. By 1946, however, the number of pilots trained dropped to 299 and the base was deactivated Nov. 30 that year.
Soon after combat developed in Korea, Luke field was reactivated on Feb. 1, 1951 as Luke Air Force Base, part of the Air Training Command under the reorganized U.S. Air Force. Students progressed from the P-51 Mustang to the F-84 until 1964, then the F-104 Starfighter. Flying training at Luke changed to the F-100, and on July 1, 1958, the base was transferred from Air Training Command to Tactical Air Command. During the 1960s, thousands of American fighter pilots left Luke to carve their niche in the annals of Air Force history in the skies over Vietnam.
In July 1971, the base received the F-4C Phantom II and assumed its role as the main provider of fighter pilots for Tactical Air Command and fighter forces worldwide. In November 1974, the Air Force's newest air superiority fighter, the F-15 Eagle, came to Luke. It was joined in December 1982 by the first F-16 Fighting Falcon, which officially began training fighter pilots Feb. 2, 1983. Luke units continued to set the pace for the Air Force. The 58th TTW had two squadrons - the 312th and 314th Tactical Fighter Training Squadrons - conducting training in the newest C and D models of the Fighting Falcon. The 405th TTW received the first E model of the F-15 Eagle in 1988 and two of its squadrons - the 461st and 550th - began training in this dual-role fighter.
In July 1987, the Reserve function at Luke changed when the 302nd Special Operations Squadron deactivated its helicopter function and the 944th Tactical Fighter Group was activated to fly the F-16C/D.
The early 1990s brought significant changes to the base. As a result of defense realignments , the 312th, 426th and 550th TFTSs were inactivated as were the 832nd Air Division and the 405th TTW. The F-15A and B models were transferred out, and the 58th TTW, being the senior wing at Luke, was re-designated the 58th Fighter Wing and once again became the host unit at Luke.
In April 1994, after 24 years at Luke, the 58th Fighter Wing was replaced by the 56th as part of the Air Force Heritage program. Air Force officials established the program to preserve the Air Force legacy and its history during the defense draw down. The 56th FW is one of the most highly decorated units in Air Force history. Units flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon are the 21st, 61st, 62nd, 63rd, 308th, 309th, 310th, and 425th Fighter Squadrons.
Agricultural land is giving way to the rapid population growth in the area. The large retirement complex of Sun City to the northeast has been joined by Sun City West to the north and Sun City Grand to the northwest. Their development creates difficulties for the base whenever winds are from the southwest and ex-ceed 15 knots. This forces the use of Runway 21 and noise abatement proce-dures for the aircraft. Apartment complexes and housing projects are also begin-ning to increase near the base. In 1995, Luke AFB was annexed by the city of Glendale---?a political move to protect the base from closure by limiting en-croachment from housing tracts.
The Phoenix Metropolitan area itself lies only 7 miles east-southeast from Luke AFB. Phoenix, the sixth largest city in the United States, is the state capital and is growing at an explosive rate. Its size has grown from 583,217 in 1970, to 770,000 in 1980, to 971,620 in 1990. As of 1995, it was estimated that approxi-mately 1.5 million people reside in Phoenix alone, with another 1 million living in numerous satellite cities such as Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale and Tempe. The dense population of Maricopa County consists of approximately 3 million people as of 1995.
The land surrounding Luke AFB is composed of desert vegetation typical of the Sonoran Desert. The property undisturbed by man-made influences consists of creosote bush on the desert floor, mesquite and other riparian vegetation along the river bottoms, and palo verde and various cacti on the nearby hills. Only on elevations above 2500 feet to the north and east are relatively thick growths of chaparral and oak found. A large amount of the land surrounding the base is irrigated and cultivated for ag-ricultural use by pump water from the Central Arizona Project and the Lake Pleasant Reservoir located within the Hieroglyphic Mountains. Principal crops in-clude cotton, onion, alfalfa, grapes, sweet corn, lettuce and citrus fruits.
Secretary of Defense Recommendations: Realign Luke Air Force Base, AZ. The 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, AZ, distributes its F-16 Block 25s (13 aircraft) and F-16 Block 42s (24 aircraft) to retirement. The 944th Fighter Wing distributes its F-16s to the 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno (11 aircraft).
DoD also Recommended to realign Luke AFB by relocating base-level LANTIRN intermediate maintenance to Hill AFB, establishing a Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility (CIRF) for Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pods at Hill. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 53 jobs (30 direct jobs and 23 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa, AZ, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (less than 0.1 percent).
In another recommendation, DoD would establish a Combat Air Force Logistics Support Center at Langley Air Force Base by realigning Regional Supply Squadrons positions from Hickam Air Force Base and Sembach, Germany (non-BRAC programmatic) as well as base-level Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) positions from Luke Air Force Base. Combined with a recommendation to create a Mobility Air Forces LSC, this recommendation would be a transformational opportunity consistent with eLog21 initiatives that would standardize Air Force materiel management command and control. This recommendation would realign RSS manpower (from three MAJCOM locations) and base-level LRS manpower (from three installations) into two LSCs in support of Combat Air Forces and Mobility Air Forces. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 28 jobs (16 direct jobs and 12 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (less than 0.1 percent).
In another Recommendation, DoD would realign Luke AFB, AZ, by relocating to Eglin AFB, FL, a sufficient number of instructor pilots and operations support personnel to stand up the Air Force's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Initial Joint Training Site, hereby established at Eglin AFB, FL. This recommendation would establishe Eglin Air Force Base, FL as an Initial Joint Training Site that would teach entry-level aviators and maintenance technicians how to safely operate and maintain the new JSF (F-35) aircraft. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 85 jobs (48 direct jobs and 37 indirect jobs) over 2006-2011 in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, Metropolitan Statistical Area (less than 0.1 percent).
Secretary of Defense Justification: Military value played the predominant role coupled with homeland defense. The first Air Force recommendation realigns 15 aircraft from Fort Smith (110) to Fresno (87), which supports the homeland defense Air Sovereignty Alert mission. Additionally, this recommendation helps align the eight different F-16 models across the Air Force. Finally, this recommendation makes experienced airmen available to support the new ANG flying training unit created at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR.
Air Force Reserve force structure mix constant. Creating CIRFs for LANTIRN pods and F110 engines establishes Hill as maintenance workload center for these commodities. This recommendation compliments other CIRF recommendations as part of an Air Force effort to standardize stateside and deployed intermediate-level maintenance concepts, and will increase maintenance productivity and support to the warfighter.
The third recommendation is a transformational opportunity consistent with eLog21 initiatives that will standardize Air Force materiel management command and control. This recommendation realigns RSS manpower (from three MAJCOM locations) and base-level LRS manpower (from three installations) into two LSCs in support of Combat Air Forces and Mobility Air Forces. Consolidation will provide a seamless transition from peace to war for 3,012 aircraft and weapons systems associated with CAF/MAF forces and the airmen who use them. It also provides a single point of contact to the warfighter, whether at home station or deployed. This recommendation will also result in the disestablishment of the Air Force Special Operations Command Regional Supply Squadron, Pacific Air Forces Regional Supply Squadron, and the United States Air Forces in Europe Regional Supply Squadron.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: The Commission found that the Department of Defense recommendation to realign Fort Smith Municipal Airport Air Guard Station and Luke Air Force Base was not cost effective. The Commission estimated a 20-year Net Present Value cost of $13.8 million and a payback in excess of 100 years for the recommendation. However, the Commission found that the military value calculation for Fort Smith did not give proper credit to airspace, low level routes, and auxiliary airfields and nearby Fort Chaffee. The Commission agreed with the Secretary of Defense that the F-16s at Fort Smith should be withdrawn due to a shrinking inventory of this weapon system but found Fort Smith to be an ideal location for the A-10aircraft. No objections were found to the part of the recommendation related to Luke Air Force Base. The Commission found that this action is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Reserve Laydown plan.
The Commission found operational efficiencies gained by this recommendation. The Commission noted a risk to material management support to the Air Force during the transition period, but the Commission also recognized that the Air Force has, in-place, a detailed implementation plans to mitigate this risk.
This recommendation directing aircraft movement and personnel actions in connection with Air National Guard installations and organizations is designed to support the Future Total Force. The Commission expects that the Air Force will find new missions where needed, provide retraining opportunities, and take appropriate measures to limit possible adverse personnel impact. The Commission's intent is that the Air Force will act to assign sufficient aircrew and maintenance personnel to units gaining aircraft in accordance with current, established procedures. However, the Commission expects that all decisions with regard to manpower authorizations will be made in consultation with the governor of the state in which the affected Air National Guard unit is located. Any manpower changes must be made under existing authorities, and must be made consistent with existing limitations. Some reclassification of existing positions may be necessary, but should not be executed until the Air Force and the state have determined the future mission of the unit to preclude unnecessary personnel turbulence. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
The Commission found that this realignment was consistent with the Air Force goals of creating larger more efficient fighter aircraft squadrons and improving intermediate level maintenance processes. The Commission found that Hill Air Force Base had capacity and conditions for current and future flying missions. The Commission also found that the Secretary of Defense's overall intent and concept of realigning F-16 aircraft out of Hill Air Force Base was supportable. The Commission supported the recommendation to establish Hill as a Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility for Low Attitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night pods and for F-110 Engines. The Commission established an F-16 wing at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criterion 1, 3, 4, and 5 as well as from the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following:
Realign Fort Smith Municipal Airport (MAP) Air Guard Station (AGS), AR, and Luke Air Force Base, AZ. Distribute the 15 F-16 aircraft assigned to the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) at Fort Smith Air Guard Station, AR, 37 F-16 aircraft assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, and the 15 F-16 aircraft assigned to the 144th Fighter Wing (ANG) at Fresno Air Terminal Air Guard Station, CA, to meet the Primary Aircraft Authorizations (PAA) requirements established by the Base Closure and Realignment recommendations of the Secretary of Defense, as amended by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission;
Establish 18 PAA A-10 aircraft at the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG), Fort Smith Air Guard Station, AR.
Establish 18 PAA F-16 aircraft at the 144th Fighter Wing (ANG), Fresno Air Terminal Air Guard Station, CA.
Establish a contiguous enclave for the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) sufficient to support operations of that unit, including flight operations, compatible with joint use of the Air Guard Station as a civilian airport. The Home Station Training Site moves to Savannah, GA.
If the State of Arkansas decides to change the organization, composition and location of the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) to integrate the unit into the Future Total Force, all personnel allotted to the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG), including the unit's Expeditionary Combat Support (ECS) elements, will remain in place and assume a mission relevant to the security interests of the State of Arkansas and consistent with the integration of the unit into the Future Total Force, including but not limited to air mobility, C4ISR, Information Operations, engineering, flight training or unmanned aerial vehicles. Where appropriate, unit personnel will be retrained in skills relevant to the emerging mission. This recommendation does not effect a change to the authorized end-strength of the Arkansas Air National Guard. The distribution of aircraft currently assigned to the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) is based upon a resource-constrained determination by the Department of Defense that the aircraft concerned will better support national security requirements in other locations and is not conditioned upon the agreement of the state.
Realign Edwards Air Force Base, CA; Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID; and Luke Air Force Base, AZ, by relocating baselevel LANTIRN intermediate maintenance to Hill, establishing a Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility (CIRF) for Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pods at Hill AFB.
The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.
The Commission found the Secretary's third recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission approves the recommendation of the Secretary.
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