The Air Force is delaying release of the report detailing the environmental impact of establishing an F-35 training site at Luke AFB, Ariz., to allow additional citizen input. Luke was designated the Air Force’s preferred site for F-35 fighter fundamentals training last July, and was originally due for release this summer, reported the Arizona Republic. Officials dispatched a second round of letters soliciting further comment, notably from tribal governments on issues of land-usage, noise pollution, and public safety according to local press. The Air Force noted its preference for Luke over candidates Boise ANGS, Idaho; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Holloman AFB, N.M.; and Tucson ANGS, Ariz. USAF officials now expect to publish a draft report early next year and make the final decision next summer. Luke is currently USAF’s primary F-16 training base and is looking to the F-35 mission to continue its legacy.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.