In the last several months, there has been a flurry of public meetings, media coverage and varying opinions on the campaign to bring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program to Luke Air Force Base (AFB).
Unfortunately, there have been many opinions that were misconstrued as facts that could potentially hurt the opportunity to have Luke AFB chosen as the new JSF training base for the Department of Defense.
As mayor of Surprise, I want to state my full support for bringing the F-35 training program to Arizona. Surprise has more flyovers of aircraft than any other West Valley city and we hear the roar of those jets as the sound of freedom.
Others have misstated the F-35 being twice as loud as the current F-16s that we have at Luke AFB, but the official Department of Defense tests completed in October 2008 at Edwards Air Force Base concluded that the F-35 is approximately 10% louder than the F-16s currently flying at Luke AFB.
The Environmental Impact Statement process that will be conducted at Luke will also consider the noise generated from the F-35 as part of its site-specific data collection.
Beyond the mechanics of the F-35, I also want to highlight the impact of the military on our local community.
With the close proximity of Surprise to Luke AFB, many of the 8,000 active-duty personnel and their 6,700 family members have chosen to live and work in Surprise. Their impact on our city—through the contributions they make as employees at local businesses, to their children in local schools to their choice to reside in Surprise—cannot be negated and truly shows the close relationship that Surprise and Luke AFB share.
Without these brave men and women serving our country and playing an active role in our community, Surprise would not be the wonderful city that we all call home. We welcome them as our neighbors, co-workers, students and customers and look forward to Luke AFB being a thriving partner to our south long after the F-16 program is phased out in 2025.
Luke AFB was here in the West Valley long before neighboring cities began cropping up and we should all unite in our support of continuing Luke’s contribution to our region and to the entire state of Arizona.
The economic impact of $2.1 billion annually that Luke contributes to Arizona’s economy cannot be dismissed, as we all benefit through small and large business cultivation, revenue generation and an increase in the quality of jobs created by the presence of Luke in our backyard. This will only increase in the years to come if we continue to show a united support of our “hometown Air Base.”
It’s been wonderful to hear positive feedback and support from our Surprise-based businesses in the last few weeks. Many of these businesses have voiced their support for the mission at Luke AFB and stated that they would not be in business without the support of the military personnel who have become loyal customers.
Our business community is rising up to show their support for continuing the mission at Luke and bringing the F-35 mission here by writing letters of support, putting support sign-up sheets out for their customers to sign, providing discounts for those with military identification cards and enthusiastically asking how they can continue showing their support for bringing the F-35 to Arizona.
I invite you to join me and these Surprise business owners in voicing your support of the mission at Luke AFB and bringing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission to Arizona by going to www.lukeforward.com. In addition to adding your support through that website, you can also find answers to questions you may have about the technical aspects of the F-35 aircraft or the JSF mission coming to Arizona.