On June 26, an F-16 crashed just outside the boundaries of Luke Air Force Base. Luckily, the pilots were able to eject safely and the aircraft went down in a field, causing no damage to structures. The fact that only vacant land was affected by this crash is no coincidence.
For the past decade, Peoria and other West Valley cities have been working with Luke Air Force Base to ensure that residential encroachment did not impact the mission of the base, or put residents in danger in these types of situations.
The following day, 56th Fighter Wing Commander Gen. Michael E. Rothstein announced that the United States Air Force had made the decision to locate three additional F-35 squadrons at Luke, bringing the total to six squadrons and 144 aircraft to the base. This announcement was a result of the work that the residents of Peoria and other West Valley cities put in during the basing process. The support of the elected officials and residents surrounding Luke was unmatched throughout the country.
As Congress continues to struggle with budget solutions and balancing spending, there is talk of another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process beginning. With the arrival of the F-35 squadrons, Luke appears to be in a good place to survive this BRAC, but now is not the time to get complacent.
In the coming years, the American military is expected to reduce the number of troops significantly, increasing the number of veterans in our communities considerably. Arizona, and specifically the West Valley, has always been a preferred place for military retirees. The benefits of having an active duty base – and all of the benefits that come with it – along with the great weather, are unmatched. When these families move into our neighborhoods, they enhance our communities. Not only do they bring an economic boost, but are often very involved with civic organizations and volunteering.
Please continue to support Luke Air Force Base and the men and women who serve there. Continue to show both active-duty and retired military members that Peoria is the place to raise their families and retire.