Thursday, February 9, 2017

Top Marine Corps aviator wants F-35Bs faster than planned

Top Marine Corps aviator wants F-35Bs faster than planned: The Marine Corps’ top aviator is hungry for more F-35Bs, telling reporters on Wednesday that he would like to see the service’s buy rate increase to 37 jets per year.

That would almost double the planned rate of F-35B procurement over the next few years, which is projected to sit at 20 aircraft per year from fiscal years 2018 to 2021.

"We have the infrastructure in place,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation. "Bottom line is we've had a very anemic ramp, so we've been holding onto the older airplanes longer. If asked by the American people to get the airplanes faster, I guarantee we'd put them into play very, very quickly.

“We'd transition squadrons faster is what we'd do,” he said, adding that if the service were allowed to purchase 37 B-variants a year, it would be able to retire its legacy F/A-18 Hornet and Harrier planes by 2026.

The Marine Corps currently owns about 50 F-35Bs in test, training and operations squadrons, and is gradually making the shift from Hornets and Harriers to F-35s, Davis said.