F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Great For Arizona Economy

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

This week’s debt ceiling debate, not surprisingly, has us all focused on policing government spending.  And one suggestion that’s been circulated is to slow production of certain defense projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  That conversation takes place at a time when Arizonans anticipate Luke Air Force Base will be the training home for the aircraft. There are already suppliers and experts in our state working on it, and we need the jobs and economic development that a large squadron multi-role stealth aircraft would bring.
Arizona’s congressional delegation must stand for high-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aging F-16 squadron at Luke already shrunk from 185 fighters six years ago to now 138 – with the base’s population slipping down to 7,400 personnel from the original 8,000. That’s fewer jobs, meaning diminished wages and decreased revenue for the state.
We can’t turn this around with more F-16s. They’re outdated and, frankly, enemy technology is fast catching up with them.  We need next-generation technology to keep our men and women safe.
The F-35 project brings nearly $90 million in economic impact from the work of 19 suppliers based here in the state.  So, full production would bring more jobs at Luke, and more jobs throughout Arizona.  And that’s just the tip of it.
Several years ago, an independent study discovered that Luke AFB alone was bringing in $2.2 billion annual revenue for Arizona.  There’s nothing chump about that kind of change. Included is an economic engine from nearly 100,000 retired military personnel living around the base and the many businesses, schools and community institutions in surrounding metropolitan areas that depend on that income for its existence.
So, supporting the F-35 is, in reality, supporting the state and growing jobs. Projections estimate that the initial base construction phase for the F-35s would generate $125 million by itself.  Again: more jobs.
We could talk all day about the F-35 as the most advanced multi-role stealth combat aircraft in the world.  And it doesn’t hurt to mention how much we need it to maintain our global air superiority (would you believe that some of our aircraft are nearly 30 years old??).
But, we really need our representatives in Washington to hear this loud and clear. Simply put, this is all beneficial for Arizona―with the extra-added bonus of protecting our country and people in uniform. We need to get the F-35 here, benefit from the job growth, train the pilots and get this aircraft in full flight.  That’s a no-brainer Arizonans can’t afford to take chances on.


  1. Frankly Speaking says

    Here here! Completely agree. We need to get the word out on how important it is that we get the F-35 to Luke.

  2. This is exactly what we need to “invest” in. It covers national security and adds tremendously to the local economy. Instead of make-work projects and give-aways the current administration favors, let’s build something that we need. Please keep us up-dated as this process moves along.

  3. 3501N24ST says

    I hope all of our elected officals would read this F35 story, it would remind them on how important the F35’s are and will be to Arizona. Especially Sen. McCain isn’t he chairman of the Senate Military Afairs Committiee.

  4. Finger Wags says

    What about that second engine deal. A few months back Wes Harris and some other Tea Party leaders were talking about the second engine that the USAF didn’t want and was seen as total pork. Weird part was Trent voted for it.

  5. hotflasholly says

    With all the F16’s going out of state., the F35 will save jobs in Arizona and keep Luke as a vital military operation. The F35 is a must to keep our country safe

  6. Jobs, jobs, jobs! Lets bring the project to Luke!

  7. I’m all for keeping our military tip top, the best in the world. That’s a separate issue.
    The government representatives jobs are not to tax us out the wazoo so we lose jobs out of a vibrant private sector, and replace them with hand-out jobs based on not innovation and competition, but on government hand-out jobs procured by political haggling behind closed doors. These jobs are not sustainable for they rely on political wheeling and dealing, not market forces.

    Why the attitude that we should be grateful for a FEW jobs, which can be yanked away at any time by rival poltical interests – the decision being made far far away in Washington, when the entire state should be a powerhouse of free market enterprise, low tax, high services fertile ground for existing and new businesses?

    Caterpillar is looking to move its plant out of a high tax state … one notices Arizona isn’t on their list. How many other companeis looking for better pastures aren’t including AZ? WHat’s turning them OFF this state? They are making rational decisions, and too many times AZ doesn’t make the cut. One of the nation’s most beautiful and varied states, bar none, excellent weather, lower cost of living…yet we are supposed to be all warm and grateful Senator McCain is taking years to snag a contract that the WHite House can scuttle, when while we were waiting, we could have had thousands upon thousands of jobs incoming thanks to a better tax code and sensible regulatory laws.

    AZ’s problem is it’s always going for the political big, flashy show, be it sports teams or jet factories instead of the bread and butter industries and businesses which will bring in or create jobs all over the state, instead of only those centralized in Phoenix.

  8. The F-35 is a great aircraft and we need it. But Lockheed has really screwed up final development of the program and needs to be held accountable. The cost overruns on the F-35 are egregious and are putting the future of the program in jeopardy. Lockheed should forced to absorb a very large percentage of the overruns if not all of them.

    Lockheed Martin has not only let down the armed forces and Arizona, but it has also let down strong US allies like the UK, Australia, and Canada who are now reconsidering buying the F-35 because of cost increases and delays. That hurts Luke too because many foreign pilots train here.

    The days of letting defense contractors like Lockheed Martin pass the costs of their mismanagement off on taxpayers should be over. Lockheed needs to deliver these planes at the price they promised. If the company needs to go bankrupt or be restructured as a result of being forced to meet its obligations to the taxpayers and national security, so be it.

    So I say keep the F-35 program in place and fully funded but make Lockheed Martin pay for their massive overrruns.. It will send a message to these bloated defense contractors that they need to operate as efficiently as other private sector companies.

  9. Ernest Mc Collum says

    F-35 great for west valley if its not you life that is destoryed because of it. Many of us have been effected by this our property has lost even more value than everyone else. Some can’t add on to their house this is nothing more than a taking yet our government won’t make them whole. The flight path has been changed the jets would fly over our house much higher than they do now and we now have to disclose this fact when we sale.
    The mission changed the people should be paid for there loss it is just like when the Government “us’
    build a road through your property they pay for the land.
    From an economic stand point the state and community would be better served by building a new base some where else it would create new construction jobs for the hard hit construction sector. Luke could become much needed west comerical airport. Think about the energy that could be saved we need to truly be wise about our future.

  10. Has it occurred to anyone that military projects are funded with tax money? Jobs funded with tax money are no different than welfare payments funded by tax dollars, because those federally funded jobs do not produce consumer or industrial goods. Think about it – an engineer designing a bomb returns nothing to the local economy except cash flow. There is little difference to the local economy if the engineer sat at home watching TV instead of designing bombs. And if that bomb is ever used tax dollars must be spent to repair what it destroyed. We need a good defense and there nothing wrong with spending tax dollars, but re-circulating tax money does nothing to create wealth in the local economy.

    In order to bring real wealth to the local economy creative and innovative people must be attracted because they will create the projects that actually generate wealth that benefits everyone.

  11. The F35 decision and Luke has yet to be made. Congressional voices are asking for another BRAC to convene. Enroachment issues will be key to whether Luke could survive that round.
    The F35 is needed. The Navy, Air Force and Marines are now flying 30 year old designs and essentially older planes that keep getting rebuilt. You can only stress a high performance aircraft so many times before it is not safe to fly.
    When the F16 training moves, so will the international training contracts that are there. Some nations will conitnue to need F16 pilots and training because their transistion to another aircraft is not as near at the U.S. and major NATO/regional player nations.
    Luke is changing to stay relevant. Navy and Marine Corps reserve operations are moving out of old, tired facilities in Phoenix and going to Luke to consolidate military in one place. Luke could very well become another Carswell AFB (now know as NAS JRB Fort Worth – Naval Air Station – Joint Reserve Base.
    So how we will we change as a Valley community to continue to compliment our military partner?
    The competition for F35 training bases is hot. Bases in other states also have many days of good flying weather and access to ranges. What will we continue to present as community assets to the Air Force as reasons to keep Luke as a frontline training base?
    The F35 is needed to provide a flexible air warfare tool going forward. It is the first time since the famed F-4 there will be a major production of a tri-service fighter jet (and “fighter” also means ground combat support aircraft).
    It’s simply about let’s talk about the positives for a change. Military basing decisions are somewhat political, but a lot practical. Let’s focus on accentuating the positives about Arizona so we can cover one of those points well.


  1. […] Mr. Schweikert does not mention is the pressure that was put on the Arizona delegation from supporters of the Luke Air Force base and the F-35 […]

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