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Marines' F-35B operational in 2015

By Capt. Richard Ulsh | | May 31, 2013

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The Marine Corps declared that it would reach
initial operating capability of the F-35B by December 2015 in a joint
letter sent to Congress May 31.

The Corps' is currently on schedule to reach IOC in the F-35B in December
of 2015. The expeditionary, crisis response force requirements for this
milestone include an operational squadron with at least 10 aircraft that
are capable of performing the prescribed missions of close air support,
offensive and defensive counter air operations, air interdiction, assault
support escort, and armed reconnaissance. Additionally, this squadron
must be staffed with Marines properly trained and equipped to execute
these missions.

The Marine Corps established Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, its
first operational F-35B squadron, in November 2012 with a ceremony at
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona. Conventional flight operations
for the squadron began in January of 2013 with full short takeoff and
vertical landing (STOVL) operations commencing in March 2013. There are
currently six F-35B aircraft at VMFA-121 with approximately 190 Marines
assigned to the command.

"Our nation expects us to make informed decisions about developing and
employing the most effective military capabilities to support our
national security strategy," said Lt.Gen. Robert E. Schmidle, the Marine
Corps' deputy commandant of aviation. "The F-35 is the best hedge against
the ever-evolving and unknown threats posed by potential adversaries."

For more information about the F-35B IOC requirements for the U.S. Marine
Corps please contact Capt. Richard Ulsh at (703) 614-4309 or
richard.ulsh@usmc.mil.
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