Luke AFB supports historic Ally training with bomber aircraft

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Charis Bryan
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For the first time over the U.S., allied nation F-35 Lightning II aircraft operating out of the 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, supported off-station training with B-2 Spirit aircraft assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri, Nov. 15 and 17, 2022. 

Over the course of the two-day mission, a total of 20 F-35s from Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and the U.S. conducted offensive counter air training with five of the bomber aircraft in the Barry M. Goldwater Range, Arizona. The pilots of the stealth fighter jets are currently training with the 62nd Fighter Squadron, 63rd FS, and 308th FS at Luke AFB.

"These bomber integration missions prepare our pilots to be successful in the most demanding combat environments," said Lt. Col Tyler Smith, 62nd FS commander. "After integrating with a variety of aircraft and capabilities here at Luke, our pilots are ready to quarterback the joint force when they reach their operational units." 

The training exercise aimed to familiarize the pilots with the different airframe's operations and increase interoperability. While B-2 aircraft have integrated with Ally and partner aircraft during Bomber Task Force missions in Europe and the Pacific region, this is the first time that Ally nation pilots from Luke AFB have flown with the multi-role bomber. 

The pilots that participated in the training mission experienced working alongside bomber tactics and capabilities that they might not have otherwise. Early exposure to operating with the bomber aircraft better prepares the fighter pilots for potential future integrations.

"Luke is training our Airmen, Allies, and partners as realistically as possible," said Col. Matthew Johnston, 56th Operations Group commander. "Our graduates are familiar not only with their own tactics, techniques, and procedures, but those of other assets and Airmen they will be operating with in the Combat Air Forces and Global Combat Air Forces."

The exercise paired the enhanced situational awareness and stealth capabilities of the F-35 with the low-observable characteristics of the B-2, focusing on the combined readiness on the airframes.

This is the third time that the 56th FW, has supported off-station training events for bomber aircraft integrating with partner F-35 pilots. On Oct. 3 and Nov. 4, 2022, U.S. Air Force and partner nation F-35 aircraft assigned to the 62nd FS trained with B-1 Lancer aircraft from the 7th BW, Dyess AFB, Texas.

The 56th FW is the largest fighter wing in the U.S. Air Force and produces approximately 75% of the world’s F-35 pilots. The wing routinely hosts Ally and partner nation personnel and aircraft for training.