Luke Air Force Base in Arizona has reactivated a squadron that dates back to World War II, to help train F-35A pilots from the air forces of the Netherlands and Denmark.
The 308th Fighter Squadron was once again stood up in a ceremony Nov. 30, and will begin operations this month, the Air Force said in a release Monday.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force and Royal Danish Air Force will send their F-35s to Luke over the next two years, the base said, and their pilots will train alongside U.S. Air Force F-35 pilots.
“The 308th [Fighter Squadron] is the fourth F-35 squadron at Luke, but the most important part of this activation is that we will be with two partner nations,” 308th commander Lt. Col. Robert Miller said. “In a few weeks, the Dutch will start their F-35 training, followed by the Danes.”
Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt, the top commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, visited Luke before the final arrangements for the squadron were made, and toured the Academic Training Center where pilots learn to fly F-35s. Dutch airmen also were shown the new fighter squadron building and training facilities.
“The trust that we build at Luke with our partners is critical to our success on the battlefield,” Miller said. “The opportunity to train, learn and be together is unparalleled elsewhere. We are changing the way our Air Force and other nations prepare for war.”
Luke regularly trains fighter pilots from international allies’ air forces. Turkish pilots and maintainers also arrived at Luke this summer to start training on their first two F-35s.
The 308th, known as the Emerald Knights, was first activated in 1942. The squadron saw combat in Europe during World War II and during the Vietnam War. It switched from F-4s to F-16 Fighting Falcons at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, in 1988.
The squadron evacuated to Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, in 1992, ahead of Hurricane Andrew, which subsequently wiped out Homestead. It then moved to its new home at Luke in 1994. It was deactivated in 2015.