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Tucson remains a candidate for F-35 training.

The F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter is going to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., and Tucson International Airport will continue to be an option for a future basing decision Air Force officials announced Aug. 2.

Luke, an F-16 Fighting Falcon training base located west of Phoenix, will house 72 of the fifth-generation fighters for a total of three squadrons. The aircraft are anticipated to begin arriving between late 2013 and mid-2014.

The Record of Decision, taking into consideration environmental impacts, cited Luke's facility and ramp capacity, range access, weather, and its capacity for future growth as factors that make it suitable for an F-35 pilot training center.

"Luke is an excellent location for training future F-35 pilots and we congratulate them on being selected," said Col. Mick McGuire, commander of the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing, an international F-16 training unit. "This is great news for Luke and Arizona. This decision reflects what we've known for decades, that our weather and airspace are perfect for training fighter pilots."

The 162nd, along with Luke, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and the Air National Guard Station in Boise, Idaho, were the alternatives examined during a three-year Environmental Impact Statement that identified the aircraft's potential effects on air quality, noise, land use and socioeconomic issues.

Read more about the future of The F-35 in Tucson