Luke Air Force Base: Wikis

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Luke Air Force Base

Air Education and Training Command.png
Part of Air Education and Training Command (AETC)

Lukeafb-1979.jpg
Luke AFB, 1979
Maricopa County Incorporated and Planning areas LAFB location.svg
Location of LAFB in Maricopa County, Arizona.
IATA: LUFICAO: KLUFFAA: LUF
Summary
Airport type Military: Air Force Base
Owner U.S. Air Force
Location Glendale, Arizona
Built 1941
Commander Brig. Gen. Kurt F. Neubauer
Occupants 56th Fighter Wing
Elevation AMSL 1,085 ft / 331 m
Coordinates 33°32′06″N 112°22′59″W / 33.535°N 112.38306°W / 33.535; -112.38306
Website www.luke.af.mil
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3L/21R 10,012 3,052 Asphalt
3R/21L 9,904 3,019 Concrete
Sources: official web site[1] and FAA[2]

Luke Air Force Base (IATA: LUFICAO: KLUFFAA LID: LUF) is a United States Air Force base located seven miles (11 km) west of the central business district of Glendale, in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States.[2] It is also about 15 miles (24 km) west of Phoenix, Arizona. The base is named after World War I Medal of Honor recipient and former Phoenix native, Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr. Luke AFB is a major training base of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), training pilots in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Contents

Overview

The base is named for the first U.S. aviator to receive the Medal of Honor, Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr. Born in Phoenix in 1897, the “Arizona Balloon Buster” scored 18 aerial victories during World War I (14 of these German observation balloons) in the skies over France before being killed, at age 21, on September 29, 1918.

The 56th Fighter Wing (56 FW) of the AETC is the host wing at Luke. The wing is composed of four groups of 27 squadrons, including eight fighter squadrons. There are several tenant units on base, including the 944th Fighter Wing (944 FW), assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command's 10th Air Force (10 AF) and operationally-gained by AETC.

The base population includes about 7,000 military and civilian members and 15,000 family members. With about 80,000 retired military members living in greater Phoenix, the base services a total population of more than 100,000

Units

  • 56th Operations Group (OG)

The 56th Operations Group has operational control and responsibility for the entire fighter-training mission at Luke. The tail code of the assigned F-16 aircraft to the 56 OG is "LF". Squadrons and aircraft tail markings are:

The 21st FS is a USAF squadron that trains pilots of the Taiwanese Air Force, and the 425th FS does the same for the Singaporean Air Force.

  • 56th Maintenance Group (MXG)

The 56th MXG provides aircraft maintenance on more than 180 F-16s for the Air Force's only active duty F-16 training wing. It is composed of 5 squadrons, incorporating both on and off equipment aircraft maintenance and munitions maintenance.

    • 756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
    • 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
    • 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron
    • 56th Component Maintenance Squadron
    • 56th Maintenance Operations Squadron
  • 56th Mission Support Group (MSG)

The 56th MSG sustains the F-16 Fighting Falcon, provides for the community, and delivers responsive combat support.

  • 56th Medical Group (MDG)

The 56th MDG operates an outpatient only Medical Treatment Facility, which serves more than 84,000 beneficiaries in the Phoenix area.

History

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Major commands

  • West Coast Air Corps Training Center, 3 July 1941 - 23 January 1942
  • Air Corps Flying Training Command, 23 January 1942 - 15 March 1942
  • AAF Flying Training Command, 15 March 1942 - 31 July 1943
  • AAF Training Command, 31 July 1943 - 1 July 1946
  • Air Training Command, 1 July 1946 -December 1946, 1 January 1951 - 1 July 1958
  • Tactical Air Command, 1 July 1958- 1 June 1992
  • Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992 - 1 July 1993
  • Air Education and Training Command, 1 July 1993 - Present

Major host units assigned

A German F-104G from the 69th TFTS and a USAF F-4C from the 310th TFTS, 58th TFW, in 1979.

United States Army Air Forces
Litchfield Park Air Base
Luke Army Airfield

  • 74th Air Base Gp (15 June 1941 - 31 July 1942)
  • 668th Air Base Sq (1 August 1942 - 30 June 1944)
  • 3028th AAF Base Unit (1 July 1944 - 30 November 1946)

United States Air Force
Luke Air Force Base

  • 127th Air Base Gp (1 February 1951 - 31 October 1952)
    (Manned by AZ and MI ANG Personnel)
  • 3600th Air Base Gp (1 November 1952 - 30 June 1958)
  • 4510th Air Base Gp (1 July 1958 - 15 October 1969)
  • 58th Tactical Fighter Wing (15 October 1969 - 1 October 1981, 1 October 1991 - 1 April 1994)
  • 832d Air Division, 1 October 1981- 1 October 1991
  • 56th Fighter Wing (1 April 1994 - Present)

Note: Luke Army Airfield placed on temporary inactive status (1946-1951)

Operational history

In 1940, the U.S. Army sent a representative to Arizona to choose a site for an Army Air Corps training field for advanced training in conventional fighter aircraft. The city of Phoenix bought 1,440 acres (5.8 km2) of land which they leased to the government at $1 a year effective March 24, 1941. On March 29, 1941, the Del. E. Webb Construction Co. began excavation for the first building at what was known then as Litchfield Park Air Base. Another base known as Luke Field, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, released its name so the Arizona base could be called Luke Field. Advanced flight training in the AT-6 began at Luke in June that same year. The first class of 45 students, Class 41 F, arrived June 6, 1941 to begin advanced flight training in the AT-6, although a few essential buildings had been completed. Flying out of Sky Harbor Airport until the Luke runways were ready, pilots received 10 weeks of instruction and the first class graduated August 15, 1941. Then-Captain Barry Goldwater served as director of ground training the following year.

During World War II, Luke was the largest fighter training base in the Army Air Forces, graduating more than 12,000 fighter pilots from advanced and operational courses in the AT-6, P-40, P-51 and P-38, earning the nickname, “Home of the Fighter Pilot.” By February 7, 1944, pilots at Luke had achieved a million hours of flying time. By 1946, however, the number of pilots trained dropped to 299 and the base was deactivated November 30 that year.

Soon after combat developed in Korea, Luke field was reactivated on February 1, 1951 as Luke Air Force Base, part of the Air Training Command (ATC) under the reorganized U.S. Air Force. Students progressed from the P-51 Mustang to the F-84 until 1964, then the F-104 Starfighter. Flying training at Luke changed to the F-100, and on July 1, 1958, the base was transferred from Air Training Command to Tactical Air Command (TAC). During the 1960s, thousands of American fighter pilots left Luke to carve their niche in the annals of Air Force history in the skies over Vietnam.

In July 1971, the base received the F-4 Phantom II and assumed its role as the main provider of fighter pilots for Tactical Air Command and other fighter forces worldwide. In November 1974, the Air Force’s newest air superiority fighter, the F-15 Eagle, came to Luke. It was joined in December 1982 by the first F-16 Fighting Falcon, which officially began training fighter pilots February 2, 1983. Luke units continued to set the pace for the Air Force. The 58th TTW had two squadrons – the 312th and 314th Tactical Fighter Training Squadrons – conducting training in the newest C and D models of the Fighting Falcon. The 405th TTW received the first E model of the F-15 Eagle in 1988 and two of its squadrons – the 461st and 550th – began training in this dual-role fighter.

In July 1987, the Reserve function at Luke changed when the 302nd Special Operations Squadron deactivated its helicopter function and the then-Air Force Reserve's 944th Tactical Fighter Group (944 TFG) was activated to fly the F-16C/D.

The early 1990s brought significant changes to the base. As a result of defense realignments, the 312th, 426th and 550th TFTSs were inactivated as were the 832nd Air Division and the 405th TTW. The F-15A and B models were transferred out, and the 58th TTW, being the senior wing at Luke, was re-designated the 58th Fighter Wing and once again became the host unit at Luke. The Tactical Air Commans was replaced by the Air Combat Command (ACC), the Air Force Reserve by the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and the 944 TFG redesignated the 944th Fighter Wing (944 FW).

In April 1994, after 24 years at Luke, the 58th Fighter Wing was replaced by the 56th Fighter Wing (56 FW) as part of the Air Force Heritage Program and the relocation of the 56 FW and the F-16 training mission from MacDill AFB, Florida as part of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action. Air Force officials established the Air Force Heritage Program to preserve the Air Force legacy and its history during the defense draw down of the early and mid 1990s. The 56 FW is one of the most highly decorated units in Air Force history and its units flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon include the 21st, 61st, 62nd, 63rd, 308th, 309th, 310th, and 425th Fighter Squadrons.

Since 1998, there have been 17 crashes, most recently March 14, 2008, when an F-16 crashed during a combat training sortie northwest of the base.

Germans at Luke AFB

A German TF-104G of the 69th TFTS in 1982 at Luke AFB.

From 1957 to 1965 830 pilots from the German Luftwaffe (air force) were trained on the F-84 at Luke AFB. Further 1,868 F-104G Starfighter-pilots, flying more than 235,000 hours, were stationed on the base during training from 1964 to 1983. Since Northern European weather and operational restrictions placed severe limitations on the amount of training, Luke AFB was chosen, where flying conditions were ideal for most of the time. The F-104Gs and TF-104Gs were assigned to the 4512th, 4518th, and 4443rd Combat Crew Training Squadrons and the 69th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron of the USAF. The German unit was named "2. Deutsche Luftwaffen-Ausbildungsstaffel F-104 USA (2. DtLwAusbStff F-104 USA)" (2nd German Air Force Training Squadron F-104 USA). Although remaining German property, the Starfighters carried USAF insignia and were assigned USAF serial numbers.

See also

References

  • Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • GlobalSecurity.org (source of history)

Footnotes

  1. ^ Luke Air Force Base, official web site
  2. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for LUF (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-12-20

External links


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