The Marine Corps will deploy the F-35 into the Middle East next year, a Marine Corps general said Tuesday.
"We're the first ones that are going to be deploying it. We are going to be deploying it on the USS Wasp. The interesting thing is, not only are we deploying it on the Wasp, we're also going to deploy it on the [USS] Essex during the same year in Central Command," said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh at a breakfast with defense reporters.
"So not only are we going to do one, we're going to do two. So that's quite the challenge to put two squadrons aboard two ships and deploy them," said Walsh, who is the commanding general at Marine Corps Combat Development Command and the deputy commandant at Combat Development and Integration.
Ten F-35Bs are headed to the Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in January, with six more scheduled to arrive after that in a scheduled change of station.
Six F-35Bs are currently slated to go on the USS Wasp, while 10 will stay at the air station, Walsh said. The Wasp and Essex are amphibious assault ships.
Walsh said he wasn't sure exactly when the F-35B would get to the Essex, but said it could potentially be eight months after the Wasp. (end of excerpt)
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