Congresswoman Debbie Lesko of Arizona has announced that Luke Air Force Base, which is apparently in her district has been slated to host the training squadron for Belgian F-35a pilots.
In October, 2019 the Secretary of the Air Force selected Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, as a candidate to host a Belgium F-35A Foreign Military Sales Formal Training Unit, for up to seven years, starting in 2023. It has now officially been selected.
”Because of Luke AFB’s infrastructure and its experience in hosting international F-35 customers, Luke is uniquely suited to provide an optimal training environment for our Belgian Allies,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett. “Our partnership with Belgium has historic importance and will prove vital in our collective futures.”
This means that a large number of Belgian service members will begin to rotate into Luke starting this fiscal year.
However, the first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft for Belgium had only entered the Fort Worth assembly line in Texas, the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 14 November.
As noted by the Belgian government, this first aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2023, and will remain in the United States along with seven other BAC aircraft to be used for international training at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona.
According to Janes: “Deliveries to Florennes Air Base in Belgium will commence in 2025, at which time the type will be phased into service as a replacement for the Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon. Initial operating capability (IOC), which is linked to the ability to undertake limited expeditionary operations, is foreseen in mid-2027 and full operating capability (FOC) is planned for late 2030.”