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Davis-Monthan and Luke Air Force Bases

Arizona is home to two Air Force Bases and the Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field. The Air Force shares control of the Barry M. Goldwater Complex for testing operations. Slightly over half of Arizona’s active duty military population is part of the Air Force. About 11,300 Air Force personnel work in Arizona, more than any other active branch of the U.S. military.

Arizona’s installations play a large role in national defense while collaborating with cities to share airspace, improve technology, and enhance the quality of life for the airmen who live and work here. Both bases are leaders in solar energy, with the largest solar installation on U.S. government property planned at Luke and a solar cooling project in progress at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

U.S. Air Force pararescueman from the 48th Rescue Squadron.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (D-M AFB) is located within Tucson city limits. The 355th Fighter Wing is the host unit, providing medical, logistical, and operational support to all D-M AFB units. D-M AFB is home to the F-16 Fighting Falcon  and A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft. The wing's missions are to train A-10 and OA-10 pilots and to provide A-10 and OA-10 close support and forward air control to ground forces worldwide. The wing is also tasked to provide command, control, and communications countermeasures in support of tactical forces with its EC-130H aircraft and, employing the EC-130E aircraft, provide airborne command, control, and communications capabilities for managing tactical air operations in war and other contingencies worldwide.

The overall mission of D-M AFB is to provide attack airpower, expeditionary combat support, and medical forces ready for worldwide deployment to combatant commanders. Additional objectives include producing highly-trained A-10C pilots to meet the Combat Air Forces, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve requirements and providing support to the 12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) operations, an Air National Guard air sovereignty mission, four combat operations groups, and the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. Ensure the readiness of all forces to fly, fight and win in support of the Joint fight.

Installation of Excellence

D-M AFB won the Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award in March 2012. The award is given to the best installation in each military service annually to honor the innovative efforts of the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations. The award comes with $1 million in prize money to be spent on quality of life improvements to the base.

Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base, located in Glendale, is the largest and only active-duty F-16 training base in the world, with more than 138 F-16s assigned. The host command at Luke is the 56th Fighter Wing, under Air Education and Training Command. The wing is composed of four groups, 24 squadrons, including six fighter squadrons. There are several tenant units on base, including the 944th Fighter Wing, assigned to 10th Air Force and the Air Force Reserve.

In addition to flying and maintaining the F-16, Luke Airmen also deploy to support ongoing operations in Afghanistan and to combatant commanders in other locations around the world. In 2011, more than 480 Luke Airmen deployed.

International Pilot Training

F-16 pilot over Luke Air Force Base.

In August 2012 Luke AFB was selected as the site for the USAF’s F-35A Lightning II pilot training center. The base will receive 72 aircraft for a total of three fighter squadrons. Luke will also serve as an F-35A International Partner Training site for pilots outside the U.S. This training opportunity assures the continued success of Luke AFB and the Glendale community. The F-35, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft intended to be the Air Force's premier strike aircraft through the first half of the 21st Century.

Life at Luke

The base population includes about 3,800 military members and approximately 3,900 family members. With about 80,000 retired military members living in greater Phoenix, the base services a total population of nearly 90,000 people. Approximately 300 pilots train at Luke annually and proceed to combat assignments throughout the world. The 56th Fighter Wing also trains more than 550 maintenance technicians each year.

An integral part of Luke's F-16 fighter pilot training mission is the Barry M. Goldwater Range (LINK). The range consists of 1.8 million acres of relatively undisturbed Sonoran Desert southwest of Luke Air Force Base between Yuma and Tucson south of Interstate 8. Overhead are 57,000 cubic miles of airspace where pilots practice air-to-air maneuvers and engage simulated battlefield targets on the ground. Roughly the size of Connecticut, the immense size of the complex allows for simultaneous training activities on nine air-to-ground and two air-to-air ranges. The Luke AFB Range Management Office manages the eastern range activities and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (LINK) oversees operations on the western portion.

Gila Bend Air Force​ Auxiliary Field

The Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field (AFAF) is located 65 miles southwest of Luke and four miles south of the town of Gila Bend. The airfield encompasses 1,885 acres of land in southwest Maricopa County, east of Highway 85. Gila Bend AFAF includes an 8,500-foot runway for fixed-wing aircraft and a heliport.

Its primary mission is to support the Barry M. Goldwater Range Complex. Nine bombing and gunnery ranges, scattered within the 1.8 million-acre facility, are used by all branches of the military for conducting air-to-air and air-to-surface tactical training. Military aircraft, primarily F-16s, A-10s and Army National Guard helicopters, routinely use Gila Bend AFAF for practicing traffic pattern and emergency simulated engine flameout procedures. The airfield is also used for emergency and precautionary recoveries of military aircraft that experience malfunctions on the range.

Information from Luke Airforce Base.

Read more about AZ's Military Installations
Yuma Proving Ground and Barry Goldwater Complex
Test Facilities
U.S. Army: Fort Huachuca
Air National Guard: Fighter Pilot Training
National Guard
U.S. Marine Corps: Yuma Marine Corps Air Station
Marine Corps

A-10 Thunderbolt

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jesus Cosme, U.S. Air Force test pilot school student, climbs down from an A-10 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The A-10 Thunderbolt is the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (D-M AFB) in October 1975. All models are simple, effective and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles.  It is highly accurate and can operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions. The wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. Using night vision goggles, A-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness. Thunderbolt IIs have Night Vision Imaging Systems, or NVIS, goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision. The pilots are protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system. The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than did previous aircraft. The aircraft can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm. Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam. Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.

Watch a demonstration of A-10 Thunderbolt II capabilities at the 70 Years of Thunder Air Show at Luke AFB in 2011. The A-10 is used to support ground forces, and is known for its strength and striking power. This particular A-10 and its pilot are stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson.

Luke Days: Watch a demonstration of A-10 Thunderbolt II capabilities at the 70 Years of Thunder Air Show at Luke AFB in 2011. The A-10 is used to support ground forces, and is known for its strength and striking power. This particular A-10 and its pilot are stationed at D-M AFB in Tucson.

Arizona Military​ Personnel
  • Army 5,358
  • Navy & Marine Corps 4,559
  • Air Force 11,323
  • Active Duty Military 21,240
  • Reserve and National Guard 18,737
  • Total Personnel 39,977

Information from America’s Military and You Public Outreach.