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http://www.janes.com/article/66844/usmc ... t-of-f-35b
The US Marine Corps (USMC) has started relocating Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft to Japan for the type's first overseas deployment, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced on 10 January.
An undisclosed number of jets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) departed Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma in Arizona bound for MCAS Iwakuni in Japan the day before the announcement. They transited via Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
The transition of VMFA 121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B programme for the USMC, and comes six months after initial operating capability (IOC) for the type was declared in July 2015.
VMFA 121 became the service's first operational F-35B squadron in November 2012, when it traded in its Boeing F/A-18 Hornets for the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. In December 2015, the unit participated in Exercise 'Steel Knight', which was a live-fire wargame that integrated air and ground elements in a wide range of military operations in an austere environment. This was done to prepare the 1st Marine Division for deployment as the ground combat element of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), and saw the F-35B perform "exceedingly well", according to the marines.
With VMFA 121 now operationally deploying the F-35B overseas for the first time, the USMC will conduct the first operational maritime deployments aboard its amphibious assault ships in 2018.
In December, the UK confirmed that USMC F-35Bs will join those fielded by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aboard the maiden deployment of the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in 2021.
- Location: Nottingham & Porlock, Somerset
Also from Defense News: http://www.defensenews.com/articles/fir ... s-to-japan
WASHINGTON — A Marine Corps F-35B squadron has transferred from the United States to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, marking the first permanent international deployment of the joint strike fighter, the service announced Tuesday.
Marine Corps spokesman Capt Kurt Stahl told Defense News that 10 F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) departed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona on Monday, with the first jets slated to arrive in Japan on Wednesday. All 10 F-35s will arrive at Iwakuni by Thursday. Eventually, an additional six jets will be relocated from Yuma to Iwakuni, bringing the squadron up to a full 16 aircraft.
VMFA-121 is a part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“The transition of VMFA-121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft,” the service said in a statement.
The Marine Corps’ short takeoff vertical landing version of the F-35 is the first variant of the aircraft to be permanently stationed outside of the United States. VMFA-121 became the US military’s first operational F-35 squadron in July 2015. Since then, the squadron “has continued to fly sorties and employ ordnance as part of their normal training cycle,” the Marine Corps said.
One such demonstration was Exercise Steel Knight in December 2015, a live-fire exercise that combined ground and air operations. The F-35B also took part in a proof-of-concept demo aboard amphibious assault ship America last October, where pilots tested the jet’s ability to operate in harsh at-sea conditions with a range of weapons.
The Air Force will become the next US service to internationally deploy the joint strike fighter, but is opting to locate its first squadron in Europe rather than in the Asia-Pacific. The F-35A will be permanently based at Royal Air Force Base Lakenheath in England as early as 2020.
- Location: Nottingham & Porlock, Somerset
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