3rd MAW Receives First F-35B
(Source: US Marine Corps; issued Nov. 16, 2012)
The US Marine Corps is standing up its first “operational” F-35B squadron, but with incomplete aircraft that carry no weapons and can only fly some basic training missions. (USMC photo)
MCAS YUMA, Arizona --- The Marine Corps welcomed its first operational F-35B aircraft, the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 Lightning II also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. Friday, Nov. 16.

The F-35B, one of three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter, is a tactical fixed-wing aircraft that is to be the replacement for aging jets within the Marine Corps. 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing's first F-35 squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, is based at MCAS Yuma and is the first operational F-35 squadron in the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense.

Marine F-35B pilot Maj. Aric Liberman delivered the first F-35B, BF-19, to MCAS Yuma at 1:05 p.m. MST. This aircraft will be used to conduct a full spectrum of aviation operations in support of combat missions and maritime readiness worldwide. (ends)

Marines’ First Frontline Stealth Fighter Lacks Vital Gear
(Source: Wired.com; published Nov. 19, 2012)
The U.S. Marine Corps has received its first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, in theory, is meant for actual combat. But that doesn’t mean the pricey, long-delayed JSF is going to be dropping bombs on enemy targets anytime soon. The Lockheed Martin-built plane’s computerized logistical system, flight software and special helmet still aren’t ready — and it lacks weapons.

No, the Marines have taken possession of the combat-designated, but not combat-ready, F-35 in order to begin building up its stealth-fighter fleet. Not yet, anyway. The advance preparation should ensure that the Corps can send the new JSF squadrons into combat the moment the jet is finally fully equipped … whenever that might be.

“The Marines are determined to get this plane into the field as soon as it can be safely accomplished,” Loren Thompson, a Lockheed consultant, told Reuters. “They don’t want to be slowed down by bureaucratic obstacles.” Instead, it’s the technical obstacles that are dictating the timing of the F-35′s combat readiness. No one is sure precisely when the jet will get the critical missing items, but it could be years.

Of all the military branches acquiring F-35s through history’s most expensive weapons procurement effort, the Marines need the stealthy jet the most. The Corps’ existing Hornet and Harrier fighters are old and too few in number, especially after a Taliban attack on an air base in Afghanistan in September destroyed 1/15th of the Harrier fleet. “We have equipment that has got to be recapitalized,” Marine commandant Gen. James Amos said last year.

What’s more, the amphibious branch is already working with the Navy to build two multi-billion-dollar aircraft carriers specifically intended to carry F-35s. The Corps has more JSF pilots in training than it has frontline jets for them to fly. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Wired.com website.


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