ARLINGTON, Va. --
Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, took another step towards a stronger future for the Marine Corps by signing a memorandum of understanding on tactical aircraft integration on March 14.
The memorandum, signed also by the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Navy Operations Admiral Gary Roughead, incorporates a plan to provide five Marine Corps squadrons F-35C, the carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, to the Navy’s carrier air wings.
The Marine Corps will procure 80 F-35C aircraft in addition to 340 F-35B, the short take-off/vertical landing variant. The continued development of the F-35B remains the centerpiece of the Corps’ “fixed-wing,” or jet plane, modernization program.
The decision to purchase C-model Joint Strike Fighters is representative of the Corps’ commitment to tactical air integration with the Navy.
The F-35B is the world’s first supersonic and radar-evading stealth aircraft with short take-off and vertical landing capabilities. The aircraft can operate from a variety of ships, roads and austere bases. The JSF’s abilities are vital to conduct expeditionary operations in the future, said Amos.
The earlier than anticipated procurement of the F-35C allows the Marine Corps to simultaneously meet its enduring commitment to carrier tactical aircraft integration while continuing the measured transition to a 5th generation F-35B expeditionary capability.
The goal is to have Navy and Marine Corps F-35Cs on board all 11 aircraft carriers and F-35Bs flying off of 11 large-deck amphibious ships, giving the country, for the very first time, 22 capital ships with 5th generation aircraft mission capabilities.
The Marine Corps remains unequivocally committed to the success of the F-35B program.