Library Fact Sheets
FLIGHT OPERATIONS AND NOISE|
Printable Fact Sheet
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE FLIGHT OPERATIONS AND NOISE
FLIGHT PATHS (8.53MB .pdf)
NOISE CONTOUR MAP (1.81MB .pdf)
Question and Answer
The United States Air Force is committed to being a good neighbor. We appreciate the support we receive from the local community. The following information is designed to improve your understanding of Luke Air Force Base flying operations. The information is intended to give you an appreciation for why we fly and where we fly and includes a Question and Answer section of the most commonly asked questions we receive. If you wish to skip the background information and proceed directly to the Question and Answer section, click here.
Public safety and ensuring our ability to perform the mission of training F-16 pilots is our top concern.
Luke is the largest and only active-duty F-16 training base in the world with over 135 F-16s assigned. We trained more than 430 F-16 pilots last year many of whom are student pilots who came to this base straight from pilot school to receive intense training on the F-16. These pilots graduate from Luke and proceed to combat assignments throughout the world.
Luke airmen are also deployed around the world in support of several contingency operations protecting U.S. interests abroad. Luke AFB trains more than 50 percent of the USAF's fighter force and 90 percent of its F-16 pilots. Nearly every F-16 pilot flying in Afghanistan and Iraq was trained at Luke AFB. The F-16 represents the most fundamental form of Air Superiority, Global Attack, Rapid Global Mobility, and Precision Engagement. The pilots trained at Luke formed the backbone of USAF's fighter force for Operations NOBLE EAGLE, ENDURING FREEDOM, and IRAQI FREEDOM.
COMPATIBLE LAND USE
Luke Air Force Base works directly with its local communities and the State of Arizona to address the issue of compatible land use and to advise local municipalities of impact from development on our mission. Development around Luke Air Force Base is a reality. Luke is vitally interested in compatible development that provides a high quality of life both for our airman who work and live here and for the community. Compatible development ensures the long-term safety and welfare of citizens living around the base. Luke's position regarding compatible land use is, and always has been, to closely coordinate with the appropriate zoning authority to ensure compatible land use decisions. Uncoordinated development could have a negative impact on our flight operations.
The Luke noise contour map (adopted by the State of Arizona) can be located here.
It is important to note that aircraft noise contours are not a "line in the sand." Communities well outside the contours are also affected by jet noise. Additionally, safety risks become greater as encroachment from development results in tighter airspace restrictions. Although Air Force leaders cannot engage in local government and community decision-making, we strive to identify development proposals that may be incompatible with our military training mission. Base leaders are committed to providing information about our operations to government leaders, community planners, developers, and concerned citizens so they can make informed decisions about land use. This interaction is vital, since impacts to military training operations are not always readily apparent to those who want to make use of property near the base for real estate development.
The Arizona legislature has recognized the importance of Luke's mission to the nation's national security by passing several state laws to formalize the communication cycle between Luke and municipalities, and to establish some compatible use definitions and protections in the high risk areas on both ends of Luke's parallel runways.
Municipalities and developers routinely contact Luke officials early in the development planning stage, working to transfer development densities away from aircraft high noise areas. To assist in its advisory role, Luke planning experts crafted the graduated density concept (known as the "GDC") to encourage development that gradually increases residential density outside of legislated "high noise" and "accident potential zone" areas. This concept has been adopted for both Luke's main base and the base's Auxiliary Field 1 in Surprise and is listed in municipal general plans.
Statutes relating to military airports have been expanded and carefully crafted to provide for open, effective communication between Luke, developers and communities so that responsible, safe planning around the base can occur. Luke has accommodated development in the West Valley and will continue to foster partnerships with the community and all levels of government. Together, the base, local communities, the State of Arizona, and the state's Congressional delegation have instituted innovative measures to allow Luke to conduct its F-16 training mission.
The Luke AFB mission can be seen as supported by three "legs" - main base, airspace, and auxiliary fields - each of which is essential to mission accomplishment, and each of which is threatened by urban encroachment. The F-16 training mission at Luke AFB is dependent not only on the base itself, but also on its airspace, to include gunnery ranges, low level Military Training Routes (MTR), outlying auxiliary airfields and Military Operating Areas (MOAs). Luke AFB Auxiliary Airfield #1 known as "Aux-l," 15 miles northwest of Luke, supports 13,000 practice instrument operations annually. Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field (AFAF), 50 miles to the south and adjacent to the Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR), provides a facility for practicing visual approaches. As an emergency recovery airfield, Gila Bend AFAF averages 75 emergency aircraft recoveries annually.
Luke conducts over 24,500 operations or over flights in its local airspace annually. Luke Air Force Base flight operations are typically from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but Luke may fly outside of this window, to include weekends, due to mission requirements. Luke airspace is one of the busiest for air traffic in the world.
Airspace Used by Luke Air Force Base
Operational flexibility is necessary for Luke's flying training mission. Student F-16 pilots need access to operating areas, low-level military training routes and the opportunity for flying practice instrument approaches.
MILITARY OPERATING AREAS
Luke AFB has several military operating areas (MOAs) where F-16s conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground training sorties. These include the Sells, Bagdad, Gladden, Outlaw, Auxiliary Field 1 and the Barry M. Goldwater Range. To use these MOA's, Luke F-16's fly defined departures and recoveries. F-16 pilots practice visual and instrument recoveries into Luke AFB, Gila Bend Air Force Airfield, and Aux-1, a closed airfield located 15 miles northwest of Luke AFB. Luke AFB and Gila Bend Air Force Airfield have traffic as high as 10,000' Above Ground Level (AGL) practicing emergency procedures. The Radar Pattern has a very high potential for near mid-air collisions due to the heavy workload of F-16s under radar approach control (RAPCON) and general aviation aircraft that fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
MILITARY TRAINING ROUTE (MTR) ACTIVITIES
Fighter pilots need to know how to fly low and fast. The idea is to use low altitude and terrain in order to avoid visual and radar detection, as well as to render enemy air defenses less effective. The actual tactical situation will determine whether the fighters elect to fly low in combat, but it's necessary to have the skill. The skill involves prioritization, between not hitting the ground, keeping his flight leader in sight, flying the briefed formation, keeping radar and visual lookout for threats, navigating using onboard systems and visual references, and monitoring aircraft systems and fuel. In the beginning, about all the student can do is to keep from hitting the ground and perhaps keeping his flight lead in sight. By the end of his training, he is ready to perform all the required tasks in combat. For a map of our MTRs, click here.
Point of Contact
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs