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By Carolyn Dryer @ The Glendale Star

U.S. Congressman Trent FranksCongressman Trent Franks commented this week on the mission at Luke Air Force Base and the scheduling of the F-16 squadrons’ move to Holloman Air Force Base once the F-35 Lightning II lands at the base in Glendale.

Upon entering office, Franks said he was part of the delegation that worked diligently to save Luke during the Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) process.

“Then, we were working hard to get the F-35 to Luke,” Franks said. “.So, those are wonderful successes I’m thankful for.”

Franks said the first F-16 movement, the first squadron, was set to move the first quarter of fiscal year 2012 and now has been rescheduled to the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.

The second squadron was set to move the third quarter of fiscal year 2013, and that has been changed to the third quarter of fiscal year 2014.

The good news, Franks said, is the F-16 will be based at Luke longer.
He said the F-35 is now set to arrive at Luke the second quarter of fiscal year 2013.

“We haven’t seen any delay in the F-35,” he said.

Asked to comment on Sen. John McCain’s statements about the F-16 squadron movement in his Sept. 8, 2011 letter to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Franks said, “I understand Sen. McCain’s perspective very well. I’m not sure with the transition that’s occurring I would be in a mindset to challenge the Air Force at this time.

“It’s important to know the last update I’ve seen, the three squadrons planned to base at Luke are already funded, so hopefully, they are immune to cuts to the initial three squadrons.”

Franks is not so optimistic about future funding for defense.

He said, “After the budget control act and super committee, there’s an ominous willingness to cut the defense budget at a time when we’re penny wise and pound foolish. When those two airplanes hit those buildings, it cost $2 trillion.

“It is vital for America to understand that our critical economic productively depends on a secure environment. And one of the most important things we can do economically is make sure our defense is the greatest in the world.

“One of the most important foundations for Americans to be such a favorable economic investment across the world is the unquestioned nature of our security environment. If we diminish our security in the interest of economic savings, we may do the worst for both.”

This article is made available with permission of Pueblo Publishers, Inc.

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