Thursday, May 28, 2015

Marine F-35B conducts first operational testing at sea

Marine F-35B conducts first operational testing at sea: The Marine Corps' latest fighter jet has completed more than 80 successful sorties as part of its first operational testing at sea.

Early Tuesday morning, F-35B joint strike fighters — the service's short-takeoff, vertical-landing variant of the aircraft — screeched across the deck of the amphibious assault ship Wasp in quick succession, racking up the tally further.

Pilots in six aircraft are now conducting day and night operations off the mid-Atlantic seaboard as the first part of the final phase of real-world testing before the aircraft reaches its long-anticipated initial operational capability milestone this July. Aircraft participating in this round of testing are drawn from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona; Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 out of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina; and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.

The multi-role aircraft, which sports electronic warfare, ISR and kinetic attack capabilities, is the linchpin of the Marine Corps' future amphibious strike capability. It will be a vital tool for the service that serves as the nation's go-to crisis response force, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the assistant commandant for Marine aviation, while observing the testing that began May 18 and will continue through May 29.