Marine Corps Declares F-35B Operational

Posted 31 July 2015
Photo by Cpl. Travis Gershaneck

The US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford announced on 31 July 2015 that the F-35B Lightning II aircraft reached Initial Operational Capability with a squadron of ten of the short takeoff/vertical landing fighters ready for world-wide deployment. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), based at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, is the first squadron to become operational with an F-35 variant. The IOC declaration followed a five-day Operational Readiness Inspection, or ORI, which concluded 17 July. Dunford noted that VMFA-121 has ten aircraft in the Block 2B flight software configuration with the requisite performance envelope and weapons clearances, to include the training, sustainment capabilities, and infrastructure to deploy to an austere site or an amphibious assault ship. The US Marine Corps has trained and qualified more than fifty Marine F-35B aviators and certified about 500 maintenance personnel to assume autonomous, organic-level maintenance support for the F-35B. Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211), an AV-8B Harrier II squadron at Yuma, is scheduled to transition next to the F-35B in fiscal year 2016. In 2018, VMFA-122, an F/A-18 Hornet squadron at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, will transition to the F-35B.

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