The F-35B is scheduled to be deployed to the Pacific and Central Command theaters in the spring and summer 2018.

Marine Corps F-35B first deployment
F-35B makes first deployment aboard assault ships in spring and summer 2018

The Marine Corps has been successfully operating the F-35B Lightning II in the western Pacific with VMFA-121 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, during 2017. This year, the Fifth Gen. Stealth aircraft will make the first shipboard deployment as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. 

The F-35B is scheduled to be deployed to the Pacific and Central Command theaters aboard the USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Essex (LHD 2) assault ships in the spring and summer 2018, officers told to c4isrnet.com.

The Marine Corps’ F-35B aircraft may finally get their first taste of combat during upcoming deployment. According to the USMC Pacific Deputy Commander, the F-35B is a tremendous upgrade from the legacy AV-8B and these new capabilities will be demonstrated in future operations.

The aircraft is a short takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and is the world's first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft. It's designed to operate from austere bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones. It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways on major bases. The F-35B will replace the AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet.

The Marine Corps plans to buy a total of 353 F-35Bs, and 67 F-35Cs. According to to c4isrnet.com, the current F/A-18 Hornet fleet is not ready for combat, and the deployment of the F-35Bs are key to restoring readiness to the tactical air fleet.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: US Marine Corps

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