The US Marine Corps deployed F-35B Lightning II aircraft this week to one of its Marine Expeditionary Unit in East China Sea, marking the fighter's first operational deployment with the unit.
A detachment of F-35B Lightning IIs with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, landed on the USS Wasp (LHD-1) on March 5, the US Marines said in a statement. The deployment is part of the US Marines’ schedule to patrol the Indo-Pacific region this spring.
“This is a historic deployment,” said Col. Tye R. Wallace, 31st MEU Commanding Officer. “The F-35B is the most capable aircraft ever to support a Marine rifleman on the ground. It brings a range of new capabilities to the MEU that make us a more lethal and effective Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”
Well-suited for the Marine Corps’ amphibious and expeditionary focus, the F-35B can carry more firepower into more uncertain environments for longer periods of time, with better survivability than any other aircraft in history.
The “B” variant of the F-35 is capable of short take-off and vertical landing. The STOVL capability allows the F-35B to launch from and land on amphibious assault ships like the Wasp, greatly increasing the F-35B’s range and deployability.
“The F-35B is a game-changer for the Marine Corps,” said LtCol. Richard Rusnok, VMFA-121 Commanding Officer. “We are honored to be the first to deploy such a capable aircraft in support of a MEU, and are looking forward to integrating will all the other elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force and Navy Amphibious forces during this and future deployments”.