Friday, July 31, 2015
Marines declare F-35B operational
The U.S. Marine Corps today declared the F-35B operational with a squadron of 10 ready for worldwide deployment. The B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which can take off from short runways and land vertically, is the first of the F-35 Lightning II variant to achieve Initial Operational Capability, marking a milestone in the evolution of the fighter. The decision was made following an Operational Readiness Inspection that assessed the Marine Corps' ability to employ the high-tech weapon system in an operational environment. In a statement, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said the achievement is an affirmation that the F-35 program is on track to deliver essential 5th generation warfighting capabilities to the U.S. and international partners. The first operational squadron is Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) of Yuma, Ariz. (Sources: DoD, Marine Corps, 07/31/15) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and F-35 reprogramming lab. The Air Force version of the fighter is the F-35A and the carrier-capable Navy variant is the F-35C.