Initial Operational Capability (IOC) appears to be around the corner for the United States Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B fighter jets. A decision awarding IOC to Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA-121 ‘Green Knights’ is expected to be taken by Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford within days. The squadron is scheduled to deploy to Iwakuni in Japan in 2017, but could be deployed sooner anywhere in the world if needed.
A positive decision will make the Short Take Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B the first of all three F-35 variants to reach IOC, a major milestone for the F-35 program. VMFA-121 is based in Yuma, Arizona, and has been busy working up to IOC. In June the unit deployed aboard USS Wasp for operational trials. Over the last few months, the aircraft did an ‘impressive job’, said a USMC spokesperson to Reuters press agency. The squadron operates a total of ten F-35Bs.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A F-35B Lightning II takes off on the flight deck of USS Wasp (LHD-1) during routine daylight operations, a part of Operational Testing 1 on 22 May 2015 (Image © Cpl. Anne Henry / US Marine Corps)