Cactus Starfighter Luke Air Force Base 2010

By: Category: FriendsGlendaleLukeMilitary

Luke Air Force Base is home of the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the world and the only active duty Air Force F-16 training wing. Luke has 138 aircraft, 24 squadrons, 4 tenant units and more then 6,000 military and civilian personnel.Luke trains all the F-16 crew chiefs and almost all the F-16 pilots for the US Air Force. More then 16,000 F-16 pilots have graduated from Luke since 1994. Since 1941 more the 56,000 pilots have graduated from Luke.

The name of the exercise is Cactus Starfighter. Cactus Starfighter will focus on mission planning and coordination in addition to aerial maneuvers. The exercise will provide the “final exam” for the current F-16 Basic Course students from the 310th Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base – it’s where the students get to put together all they’ve learned throughout there time at Luke.

All the student pilots in the F-16 Basic Course here must participate in the similr exercise at the end of their training, but this Cactus Starfighter is unique in the the number of aircraft launching simultaneously and the level of coordination required.

A larger force exercise like Cactus Starfighter gives the B Course students realistic training in the way they would have to fight in a real-world operation. The plan is for  the 36 F-16s to launch from Luke’s runway. Of these, 32 will be “good guys” and four will be “bad guys,” or aggressors.

A KC135 tanker aircraft from Altus Air Force Base will launch from Luke and provide aerial refueling. Also joining the exercise are the F-15 aggressors from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Marine Corps F-5 aggressors from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. Providing command and control as well as intelligence gathering are three aircraft from other bases: a JSTARS aircraft from Warner Robins Air Force Base, GA., Awacs aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and a RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft from Offutt Air Force Base , Neb.

All pictures are provided by Jason Bong

Article information provided by Luke Air Force Base Public Relations Office

4 comments to Cactus Starfighter Luke Air Force Base 2010

  • Joe Kates  says:

    Nice work Jason. Thanks for all you do for

    I knew letting you run PHXspotters was a good thing.
    Since I have been devoting most of my time to my other websites
    I never had enough time to run all 3 you are a big help.

    Joe Kates (photorecon)
    Site owner of 3 premier aviation websites,but not working alone.

  • Bryan in Mesa  says:

    Is there video available of the mass launch? A video was on youtube at 630am the following morning, but it has disappearred with no other postings.

  • kenneth cheung  says:

    Jason, good job on this photojournalism. Nice to learn from the info and very nice images too.

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