On Thursday officials announced the long-awaited and much hoped for decision that Luke Air Force Base was the preferred site for the F-35 Joint Srike Fighter as a replacement for the F-16 fighter. Sen. John McCain and Governor Jan Brewer held a press conference today in response to that announcement. Both the Governor and the Senator have worked to keep Luke open and understand the vital economic role it plays, not only in the west valley but the state as a whole.
Gov. Brewer and Sen. McCain singled out State Senator John Nelson, LD-12, as being particularly instrumental in keeping Luke open and bringing the F-35 to our state. West valley mayors Cavanaugh of Goodyear, Schoaf of Litchfield Park, and Scruggs of Glendale along with County Supervisor Max Wilson were in attendance and also were commended for their efforts.
The F-35 was met with some resistance due to the noise issues it may bring in comparison to older models of the F-16. However, in answer to a reporter’s question to that effect, Sen. McCain made the point that the F-35 is not any louder than the newer, upgraded engines of the currently flown F-16.
The economic impact of Luke is over $2.7 billion annually and 8,000 jobs statewide as a direct result of the operations at LAFB. The new F-35 is expected to bring in another $2 million-plus dollars in jobs for construction and development.
An environmental impact study will be completed with final award to be announced in 2011.