MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.- An F-35B Lightning II assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), refuels in flight with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 while conducting flight operations above Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Oct. 4. The ability to refuel in flight is critical for the supportability and the sustainability of the F-35B during missions. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Becky Calhoun/Released)
The F-35’s mission is to attack and destroy surface targets, intercept and destroy enemy aircraft, provide electronic warfare support, and network enabled reconnaissance support across the full spectrum of combat operations. It has an autonomous capability to strike a broad range of moving or fixed targets, either day or night and in adverse weather conditions. These targets include air and ground threats, as well as enemy surface units at sea and anti-ship or land attack cruise missiles and it can complete the entire kill chain without reliance on external sources by using fused information from its onboard systems and/or other F-35s.
The F-35 will provide the MAGTF strategic agility, operational flexibility and tactical supremacy. The JSF is the future of all TACAIR for the Marine Corps.
The F-35B and F-35C will replace F/A-18, AV-8B, and EA-6B. The Marine Corps will procure a total of 420 F-35s (353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs). The F-35B declared IOC in July 2015 with VMFA-121 at MCAS Yuma. The squadron subsequently moved to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in January 2017. The aircraft is currently tracking to reach its full program-ofrecord operational capability (Block 3F) in calendar year 2018. The full transition from legacy to F-35 will complete with the transition of the second reserve squadron in 2031. The F-35C is expected to declare IOC in August 2018. FOC is expected for both variants in the late 2020’s.
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Lockheed Martin, Fort Worth, Texas
Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Connecticut