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First Japanese F-35A arrives at Luke Air Force Base

The arrival marked the next step for the international F-35 training program as Japan took ownership of the first FMS aircraft to arrive at Luke Air Force Base.


Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.

Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.


“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 Col. “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. “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. Louis Vega Jr.
A Japan Air Self-Defense Force maintainer prepares for the arrival of the first Japanese F-35A Nov. 28, 2016, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

“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 Lt. We are hopeful that this mission will strengthen relationships between the United States 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 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.