Commissioned and constructed in 1940 as a training field for reserve fighter pilots, Luke Field quickly grew in importance as the onslaught of World War II continued.
After the war, Luke AFB was maintained as a fighter training facility and even saw the creation of the USAF Thunderbirds demonstration squadron in May of 1953.
The base saw training for such memorable aircraft like the F-100 Sabre, the F-4 Phantom II, the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Today, Luke AFB is transforming from training pilots and maintenance crews for the F-16 Fighting Falcon to the F-35 Lightening II, the US Air Force’s newest multi-role fighter. Despite the transition to the new airframe, Luke AFB still plays host to the 56th Fighter Group and its support squadrons, which still trains 400 F-16 pilots and 470 F-16 crew chiefs annually. Luke AFB is also host to the 944th Fighter Wing, which includes the 69th USAF Reserve squadron.
Luke AFB is in Litchfield Park Arizona, a suburban community outside the city of Phoenix, the capital of Arizona. With a combine metro population of 4.2 million, Phoenix plays host to a variety of major shopping and sporting venues, including the home of the Arizona Cardinals and spring training facilities for 15 MLB teams. Phoenix also plays host to large concert events during the summer and major art and symphony events hosted by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and Herberger Theatre during the winter.
Unlike larger military bases, Luke AFB does not have its own schools or hospitals; however the base has a close working relationship with local schools and hospitals in the area. In Litchfield Park, the Litchfield Elementary District and Agua Fria Union High School District tends to the educational needs of airman and their families. Both districts have higher than average test scores and graduation rates for the state of Arizona. In the west valley of the Phoenix metro area, the award winning Banner Health Network manages three hospitals within ten miles of Luke AFB.
Housing for Luke AFB is managed by Balfour Beatty communities, which is divided into two neighborhoods, Ocotillo and Saguaro, and is comprised of over 500 units, including houses, duplexes and townhouses alike for E1 to E7. For families looking for an off-post option, the average rent as of 2012 was $1,100 (roughly $0.63 per square foot) for a single family dwelling. Average value for a three bedroom house is roughly $179,000 for those looking to buy a home in the area.
As compared to surrounding communities, Litchfield Park tends to trend higher in cost than its suburban neighbors. The trade off is that Litchfield Park is below the state and national average for aggravated assault, sexual assault and robbery.
Those who find themselves on orders to Luke AFB will have the unique opportunity to take advantage of a vibrant community with a variety of art, music, athletics and shopping venues to choose from. Coupled with a long tradition of training excellence that has made Luke AFB stand out in the network of CONUS bases, a person’s experiences while stationed in this gem of a military base are guaranteed to be unlike any others.