Luke Air Force Base - History - Luftwaffe At Luke AFB

Luftwaffe At Luke AFB

From 1957 to 1965 830 pilots from the German Luftwaffe (air force) were trained on the F-84 at Luke AFB under Air Training Command. Since Northern European weather and operational restrictions placed severe limitations on the amount of training, Luke AFB was chosen, where flying conditions were ideal for most of the time.

On 4 April 1963 the USAF and the Federal Republic of Germany signed contracts for a highly unique pilot training program. One agreement called for undergraduate pilot training for West German Air Force (GAF) and West German Navy (GN) students in T-37 and T-38 jet aircraft at Williams AFB, Arizona. The second agreement provided for advanced fighter training in the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter at Luke AFB. The two programs were interrelated. Graduates of the basic flight training at Williams were programmed for the advanced training at Luke, resulting in an almost two-year tour of duty in the United States for the young German pilots. The advanced training at Luke was the unique aspect of the program.

The host 4510th Combat Crew Training Wing (CCTW) at Luke was tasked with providing the advanced flying training. On 20 February 1964, the 4540th Combat Crew Training Group (CCTG) was organized and designated to conduct GAF training at Luke. The group was activated on 1 April. Prior to designating the 4540th CCTG, the 4518th Combat Crew Training Squadron was activated on March 1, 1964 and was reassigned to the 4540th CCTG upon the later's activation. A second squadron, the 4519th Combat Crew Training Squadron, was assigned to the group, effective 1 July 1964. The German unit was named "2. Deutsche Luftwaffen-Ausbildungsstaffel F-104 USA (2. DtLwAusbStff F-104 USA)" (2nd German Air Force Training Squadron F-104 USA). Although remaining German property, the Starfighters carried USAF insignia and were assigned USAF serial numbers.

By mid July 1964, 23 TF-104G and 12 F-104G were assigned to Luke. On 26 August 1964 a total of 14 USAF F-104 instructor pilots graduated in the second class conducted at Luke. With a sufficient number of aircraft and instructor pilots, preparations were on target to receive the first advanced training class scheduled for October 1964. Aircraft inventories at Luke peaked in 1967 and 1968. In 1967, 100 aircraft were assigned, 62 F-104G and 38 TF-104G: The total increased to 102 in 1968, 61 F-104G models and 41 TF-104G models.

Major changes occurred in organization on 1 October 1969 when the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing (TFTW) was activated, replacing the 4510th CCTW as the host unit at Luke. Concurrently, the 69th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron and the 418th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron were activated as F-104 training units, replacing the 4518th CCTS and 4519th CCTS.

By 1975, a decrease in training requirements was accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the fleet size. The two squadrons were consolidated in 1976 with the 418th TFTS inactivating on 1 October 1976. Also a storage program was started to preserve the lifespan of the aircraft. As of 30 September 1975 some 13 aircraft were in flyable storage. Training of West German Air Force pilots in the F-104G continued until late 1982. The Germans flew more than 900 Starfighters totaling an excess of 269,750 hours and produced 1,868 F-104 pilots. The 69th TFTS inactivated on 16 March 1983.

NATO F-104 Pilot Training

A third F-104G squadron at Luke, the 4443d Combat Crew Training Squadron, differed from the West German squadrons in that it was associated with the Military Assistance Program (MAP) with students from NATO and other friendly nations being trained in the Starfighter. On 22 May 1964, TAC relieved the 4443d CCTS from its assignment to the 831st Air Division at George AFB, California, and reassigned it to the 4540th CCTG, effective 1 August 1964. The move consolidated all F-104 training at one location. The F-104s that purchased with MAP funds and were assigned USAF serial numbers for record-keeping purposes although they never carried USAF insignia. On 15 June 1969 the 4443rd CCTS was inactivated.

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