The F35 Lightning II is known as the 5th-generation fighter. It combines advanced stealth capabilities with fighter aircraft speed and agility. It additionally features fully-fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced logistics and sustainment. Roughly 200 pilots and more than 1800 maintainers have been trained on the F-35. Training is conducted at three separate training locations across the US, each having the full spectrum of the latest courseware, electronic classrooms, simulators, flight events and event-based maintenance training for their respective variants.
From June 22 to June 26, the first F-35B operational ordnance expenditures test was conducted. Pilots of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, also known as the “Green Knights,” employed the ordnance in Restricted Area 2507 in southeastern California. 14 pilots used six F-35Bs to employ both inert and high-explosive munitions. During the training, 18 Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) 12s and 12 GBU-32s were employed during the training. According to the ordnance officer with VMFA-121, the munitions employed by the pilots were the same as those dropped by legacy Marine Corps fixed-wing aircraft, but the dimensions, installation and technology that targets and employs them were different.
The ordnance employment was one of the final pieces the squadron needed for the IOC declaration. In accordance with the guidelines set by U.S. Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation, fleet F-35B need to demonstrate the ability to employ ordnance for the squadron to declare Initial Operating Capability. The squadron, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, will continue to employ ordnance in the future and it will become part of the normal training cycle.
The F-35 is designed with the entire battle space in mind. They are the most flexible, technologically sophisticated multirole fighter ever built. Based on its advanced capabilities, pilots will be six to eight times more effective in air-to-air missions, air-to-ground missions and surveillance missions. The sensors and communications systems enable pilots to securely share information with allied commanders at sea, in the air or on the ground for more cohesive coalition operations.
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