The US Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, officially started its pilot training career on 14 March 2014, when the first aircraft was officially welcomed to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, USA.
Flying from the Lockheed Martin factory in Fort Worth, Texas, on 10 March the aircraft with serial 11-5030 was intercepted and escorted to its new home by a pair of 56th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcons. Another 15 F-35s are expected to arrive at Luke in 2014. The Lightning II community is expected to grow to a total number of 144 aircraft by 2025.
The first Luke F-35 will be the star of the base’s Open Days at 15 and 16 March. The F-35 parent, the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke, is THE operational training unit for the Air Force’s F-16 fighter jet and is destined to serve in the same role for the new F-35.