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Headquarters Marine Corps

Marine Corps’ first operational F-35B conducts initial Vertical Landing

By Capt. Staci Reidinger | Headquarters Marine Corps | March 22, 2013

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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter prepares to make a vertical landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. This marks the first vertical landing of a Marine Corps F-35B outside of a testing environment.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter prepares to make a vertical landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. This marks the first vertical landing of a Marine Corps F-35B outside of a testing environment. (Photo by Cpl. Ken Kalemkarian)


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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 conducted its first F-35B Lightning II short take off and vertical landing at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. VMFA-121 is the Marine Corps' first operational F-35B squadron which is currently building its operational capabilities to include 16 total aircraft and up to 300 personnel.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 conducted its first F-35B Lightning II short take off and vertical landing at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. VMFA-121 is the Marine Corps' first operational F-35B squadron which is currently building its operational capabilities to include 16 total aircraft and up to 300 personnel. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica Smith )


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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the Corps' first operational F-35B Lightning II squadron, prepares for flight operations aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. March 21, 2013.  VMFA-121 conducted the Marine Corps' first Short Take Off, Vertical Landing operations outside of a testing environment on the same day.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the Corps' first operational F-35B Lightning II squadron, prepares for flight operations aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. March 21, 2013. VMFA-121 conducted the Marine Corps' first Short Take Off, Vertical Landing operations outside of a testing environment on the same day. (Photo by Cpl. Ken Kalemkarian)


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Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter prepares to make a vertical landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. This marks the first vertical landing of a Marine Corps F-35B outside of a testing environment.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter prepares to make a vertical landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., March 21, 2013. This marks the first vertical landing of a Marine Corps F-35B outside of a testing environment. (Photo by Cpl. Ken Kalemkarian)


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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 watched in amazement and satisfaction as the Corps’ first operational F-35B Lightning II squadron conducted its first Short Take Off, Vertical Landing operations aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. March 21, 2013.

Maj. Richard Rusnok, an F-35B Lightning II test pilot, conducted VMFA-121’s first short landing and takeoff as well as the Corps’ first F-35B hover and vertical landing outside of a testing environment in BF-19. 

VMFA-121 is the first F-35B squadron to join Marine Aircraft Group 13 which is currently composed of four AV-8B Harrier squadrons a Marine wing support squadron and a Marine aviation logistics squadron. 

Rusnok was accompanied by VMFA-121's commanding officer, LtCol. Jeffrey Scott, flying a second F-35B as a chase aircraft.

"The first STOVL flight for an F-35B outside of the test environment was another milestone achieved by the Marine Corps and the Green Knights today here at MCAS Yuma," stated Scott. "The F-35 program and specifically the F-35B have made significant progress to make this possible."

As the squadron expands its operations and end strength, they will continue revolutionizing expeditionary Marine air-ground combat power in all threat environments through the use of MCAS Yuma training ranges in Arizona and California. VMFA-121 will be home to approximately 300 Marines and is expected to receive additional F-35s throughout the next 8 to 12 months, with a total of 16 aircraft scheduled to arrive by late 2013.

Differently from previous fixed wing capabilities across the Department of Defense, the integration of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and coalition F-35 Lightning II aircraft on a common platform will provide the dominant, multi-role, fifth generation capabilities needed across the full spectrum of combat operations to deter potential adversaries and enable future aviation power projection.

Specific to the Marine Corps, consolidating three aircraft, the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet and the EA-6B, into one is central to maintaining tactical aviation affordability and serving as good stewards of taxpayer dollars. 

VMFA-121 will continue to set the pace for the F-35 program based on a common platform. The U.S. Air Force and Navy can now integrate best practices from VMFA-121 in preparation for the future operational basing of the F-35A and F-35C.
ImageAV-8B ImageF-35B ImageLightning II ImageVTOL

6 Comments


  • Ron Ashmore 307 days ago
    There will always be whiners when it comes to financing expensive advancements in warcraft technology. Advancements like this have already been proven to save countless lives. In today's world, there are so many corrupt forces hell bent on destroying the freedoms and liberty of people here and abroad. Thumbs up Lockeed!
  • Andrew 1 years 1 days ago
    Wow- This is truly an amazing aircraft! It would appear that, despite cuts in defense spending, we have the F-35B and the new aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford in arsenal. We need to be on the cutting edge and stay ahead of the world. Now, if only we could re-instate the space program.
  • Belal 1 years 124 days ago
    I've started the petition "Stop the $1.5 trillion F-35 Fighter Jet Program" and need your help to get it off the ground.

    Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here's the link:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-1-5-trillion-f-35-fighter-jet-program

    Here's why it's important:

    It is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program and current plans would require the Pentagon to spend $10.6 billion each year through 2037 on the program, putting "an unprecedented demand on the defense procurement budget." [According to the Government Accountability Office]

    The program now has a price tag close to $1.5 trillion, all because Lockheed Martin, the company selling the F-35 Fighter Jet to the U.S. Government, has spent nearly $100 million in lobbying funds since 2005 to convince the U.S. Government that we need this overpriced, waste of money. [According to the Senate Office of Public Records]

    Want to help our country? Tell our government we don't need overpriced, broken toys just because Lockheed Martin is lobbying our politicians to buy it. Time to focus on education, infrastructure, health and the U.S. economy, not these kinds of programs that are draining this country dry.
  • Tom Clampitt 1 years 127 days ago
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPy7FuA0Z6A
  • harvey everson 1 years 127 days ago
    I served in the Marine Corps at Yuma in the 1st MAW Div. worked for Boeing and Boeing lost the Bid to build the F-35, but the F-35 will indeed be a Jet Fighter the Military all over the world will want...way to go Lockheed.
  • christopher pippens 1 years 128 days ago
    when I was in the corps back in 80 we always used to get the hand me downs know were getting top shelf OHRAA

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