The F-35 Lightning II program hit another milestone November 28 with the arrival of the first foreign military sales F-35A here. The arrival marked the next step for the international F-35A Lightning II training program as Japan took ownership of the first FMS aircraft to arrive at Luke Air Force Base (AFB).
«Today is a great day for the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, Luke AFB, the 944th Fighter Wing, and the Japanese Air Self-Defense (Force)», said Colonel Kurt J. Gallegos, the 944th FW commander. «We have a great team of Airmen who have worked hard to set up an outstanding training program and are ready to train our FMS counterparts».
The aircraft was welcomed by a joint delegation from the 944th and 56th Fighter Wings, Lockheed Martin, and Japanese staff.
«Today I am thrilled for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and (Luke AFB)», said Lieutenant Colonel Sean Holahan, the commander of Detachment 2, 944th Operations Group. «The arrival of Japan’s first F-35A marks another important milestone in the steadfast relationship between our two nations, and the beginning of training for an elite cadre of JASDF fighter pilots and maintainers. We put an incredible amount of thought and effort into building the world’s first F-35 foreign military sales training program from the ground up. To see Japan’s first jet on our flightline, surrounded by the men and women who have made this mission possible, is humbling».
The arrival of the first FMS aircraft is the culmination of years of planning and hard work.
«The jet arrival marks the beginning of a new and exciting mission at Luke AFB to train our allies to fly the F-35A», explained Lieutenant Colonel Joe Bemis, the executive officer and resource advisor for Detachment 2, 944th OG. «We have been preparing for this program for years. We have remodeled buildings, built a huge team of professional pilots, maintainers, and administration staff, and created specialized syllabus. We are hopeful that this mission will strengthen relationships between the US and nations that participate in the training».
Over the next several years, Luke AFB will be training FMS pilots from Japan, Israel and South Korea along with partner nations including Australia, Italy, Norway, Turkey, Netherlands, Denmark and Canada.
«This is such an important time in our wing’s history as we pick up the mission to train all FMS F-35 pilots», Gallegos said. «It’s been almost 10 years since our wing has seen aircraft on our flightline. It is an amazing feeling to look outside and see the F-35s out there and know that we are playing such an important and critical role as we build relationships that will enhance our future partnership».
In addition to the Luke AFB is scheduled to have six fighter squadrons and 144 F-35s.
|Length||51.4 feet/15.7 m|
|Height||14.4 feet/4.38 m|
|Wingspan||35 feet/10.7 m|
|Wing area||460 feet2/42.7 m2|
|Horizontal tail span||22.5 feet/6.86 m|
|Weight empty||29,300 lbs/13,290 kg|
|Internal fuel capacity||18,250 lbs/8,278 kg|
|Weapons payload||18,000 lbs/8,160 kg|
|Maximum weight||70,000 lbs class/31,751 kg|
|Standard internal weapons load||Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles|
|Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs|
|Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings)||F135-PW-100|
|Maximum Power (with afterburner)||43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/19,507 kgf|
|Military Power (without afterburner)||28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/13,063 kgf|
|Engine Length||220 in/5.59 m|
|Engine Inlet Diameter||46 in/1.17 m|
|Engine Maximum Diameter||51 in/1.30 m|
|Overall Pressure Ratio||28|
|Speed (full internal weapons load)||Mach 1.6 (~1,043 knots/1,200 mph/1,931 km/h)|
|Combat radius (internal fuel)||>590 NM/679 miles/1,093 km|
|Range (internal fuel)||>1,200 NM/1,367 miles/2,200 km|