FighterSweep Fans, it has officially happened! The United States Marine Corps has announced it’s first squadron of Lockheed-Martin F-35B Lightning IIs have reached IOC.
Is there a little bit of irony with yesterday being the Blue Moon? Has there been a great disturbance in The Force? Perhaps, but we’ll leave that alone for now. Today is for celebrating all of the hard working men and women from VMFA-121, the Department of the Navy, the Joint Program Office, and all others who had a hand in making this day a reality.
General Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps, had this to say about this tremendous milestone: “I am pleased to announce that VMFA-121 has achieved Initial Operational Capability in the F-35B, as defined by requirements outlined in the June 2014 Joint Report to Congressional Defense Committees.”
VMFA-121, known as the Green Knights, has a total of ten aircraft in the Block 2B configuration and has met the required parameters for performance envelope and weapons clearance, in addition to the training, sustainment capability, and infrastructure that would allow Marines to deploy to an austere forward operating site, or a ship.
Dunford continued, “It is capable of conducting Close Air Support, Offensive and Defensive Counter Air, Air Interdiction, Assault Support Escort and Armed Reconnaissance as part of a Marine Air Ground Task Force, or in support of the Joint Force.”
Prior to declaring IOC, the Marines conducted flight operations for seven weeks at sea, participated in multiple large force exercises, and executed a recent operational evaluation–which included multiple live ordnance drops.
Congratulations, Devil Dogs!