Luke Air Force Base – December 2013
Article and Photos by Steven Valinski
The level of activity at Luke Air Force Base in December prompted me to spend several days observing/photographing aircraft there. The big draw for me was Exercise Forging Sabre. This exercise was conducted by over 700 armed forces personnel from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). This exercise involved the RSAF’s F-16’s (425th FS), F-15SG’s (428th FS), AH-64D’s, and CH-47’s. I was mainly interesting in their Boeing F-15SG models. Built in 2005, these GE-powered fighters have state-of-the-art avionics and combat tech. In addition, the 425th’s F-16’s are Lockheed Martin block 52’s produced in the early 90’s. These reasons, along with the potential to see aircraft participating in live combat training exercises with live munitions and the latest combat tech, motivated me to travel to Luke several days in December.
I was able to get plenty of shots of the normal Luke-based F-16’s and the RSAF’s F-15SG’s. I caught a few carrying 500lb and 2000lb bombs, along with an array of different electronic warfare and radar pods. One of the days there, I did have a problem with base security. A few airmen stated that I was not allowed to take photographs. I simply stated “no problem” and left for the day. I found out later that the Republic of Singapore’s Defense Minister was visiting and several F-35’s (from MCAS Yuma) were on base, so security was touchier than usual. That was the first time base security has ever given me a problem in over 20+ visits to Luke. In any case, I had an enjoyable December photographing aircraft at Luke AFB.
With the return of the airshows, and base activity reaching “somewhat” normal levels, I am looking forward to a prosperous 2014 as an aviation photographer.
Happy New Year Everyone!