SUFFOLK, Va. --- Nearly 200 Navy, Marine Corps, and civilian personnel concluded a weeklong exercise aiming to successfully integrate the new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter into the fleet.
The exercise was comprised of a wide variety of military service members, industry partners, and technical experts.
The F-35B Ship Sustainment Wargame (SSWG) focused on the Marine Corps F-35B, using a "Day-in-the-Life" approach to analyze operations and logistics integration with the Navy's amphibious assault ships. This event was the culminating activity of nine months of preparation, led by Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces (CNSF), in partnership with Headquarters, Marine Corps Aviation and Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF).
The exercise was the first of its kind for the F-35B and the Navy-Marine Corps team, and was successful in synchronizing efforts in anticipation of future amphibious ready group (ARG) and Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) deployments.
"The Ship Sustainment Wargame is one of the best venues to utilize in order to educate, analyze, or find possible problem issues for the F-35B as it prepares for deployment aboard our L-class ships," said Gunnery Sgt. Hector Pacheco, one of the key exercise participants and an F-35B maintenance advisor assigned to Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1.
The Marine Corps declared the F-35B operational nearly two years ago, July 2015, at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Arizona. Since then, Navy and Marine experts have teamed together to integrate its technologies and capabilities.
"I think anytime you introduce a new platform in the Navy-Marine Corps team, there's bound to be some integration issues," said Capt. Matthew Hahn, Navy lead for the exercise. "My hope for and intent of this exercise is to identify and solve some of those integration issues by leveraging the experience and expertise of the participants."
The F-35B is replacing the venerable AV-8B Harrier, and the Marine Corps will be the first service to deploy with the jet in 2018. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 recently departed MCAS Yuma, transferring to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, in January.