A monsoon hit Luke AFB, Arizona, yesterday. These shots show F-35s being moved to shelters.
Not only are airfields in Afghanistan (such as the former UK’s main strategic base in the southwest Camp Bastion, Helmand) or Niger affected by sandstorms. For instance, fast moving dust storms, able to darken large areas in a very short time, regularly hit Arizona quite regularly. As happened yesterday, when a monsoon hit Luke AFB, about 15 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona, home of the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the U.S. Air Force.
Besides some 77 F-16s, Luke is home to 68 F-35s: the base is the training hub for Lightning II’s pilot and maintainers from Australia, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan and Israel. F-35 pilot training began at Luke just over a year after the 56th Fighter Wing received its first F-35A in 2014 and, according to LM, eventually, the 56th Fighter Wing will be home to 144 F-35s in the future!
The images in this post, first published by the 56th FW on their FB page, show Luke and its F-35s engulfed in dust: a pretty unique sight.
The sand storm provided an opportunity for 56th FW’s maintainers, airmen and partners from LM and partner nations to cope with a phenomena the 5th generation aircraft might find one day in theater.
It would be interesting to understand the extent of damage (if any!) to the stealth aircraft’s coating, engines, avionics, etc. caused by sand.
BTW If you want to see what a similar scene looks like from inside a C-130J click here.
All images: U.S. Air Force