Luke begins training for first class of Norwegian, Italian F-35 pilots

The first class of Norwegian and Italian F-35 pilot instructors began training at Luke Air Force Base, Sept. 21, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

The first class of Norwegian and Italian F-35 pilot instructors began training at Luke Air Force Base, Sept. 21, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ridge Shan)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The first class of future F-35 piloting instructors from Norway and Italy began their training Sept. 21 here at Luke.

The pilots, from countries partnered with the United States in the procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, will learn how to operate the advanced aircraft under the instruction of American pilots from the 56th Training Squadron.

"We are proud and excited to begin this next phase of F-35 training at Luke Air Force Base with Italy and Norway joining Australia as our partner nations, training at Luke alongside Americans to become the world's greatest F-35 pilots," said Lt. Col. Michael W. Dunn, commander of the 56th Training Squadron.

With the advanced facilities offered by the 56th TRS, the students will learn advanced flight techniques, piloting skills, and safety in classrooms filled with high-tech simulators and presentation equipment.

While the 56th TRS will handle the pilots' academic development, the 62nd Fighter Squadron will oversee the pilots' administrative needs and take over instruction once the pilots enter the cockpit of an actual F-35 for the first time.

"We will train instructors that will be stationed here at Luke on a 3 year basis, and then we will send pilots through a transition program," said Lt. Col. Martin Tesli, instructor at the 62nd Fighter squadron. "Norway will also send maintenance personnel through Luke for some training on the F-35 starting next year."

When these pilots return home, they will be equipped and prepared to help develop the training programs of their own Air Forces and will help pioneer the next generation of global F-35 pilots.

"We recognize the important strategic role Luke has in forging relationships that will bind our nations as strategic partners with a common mission of securing peace and settling any future conflicts that challenge this peace," Dunn said.

"What happens here at Luke is the most important event in the Royal Norwegian Air Force right now. You are building the future of our Air Force!" said Major General Per-Egil Rygg, Chief of Staff of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.