Shaping the Weapons Approach for the F-35B: Leveraging the Harrier Experience


2013-09-26 Although the F-35B is a new aircraft, and new skills are being learned, the USMC is clearly harvesting experience where relevant to shaping the combat approach of the new aircraft. 

In a discussion with a combat-hardened Marine who is a weapons loader for the Harrier, the shaping of the approach for the F-35B was discussed.

Sgt. Bellino from USMC Squadron 501 has nine years of experience with regard to weapons and the Harrier in combat.

I went from one vertical platform to the next vertical platform, and I’ve honestly been following the F-35 programs in 2002 when I first joined. 

And I’ve been trying my hardest to get here.  And when I first got here, the first probably about two weeks, every time I walked into my shop, I’d look out the window just to make sure it was still there until I walked back in.

Sgt. Bellino discusses leveraging the Harrier experience with regard to the F-35B. Credit: SLD
Sgt. Bellino discusses leveraging the Harrier experience with regard to the F-35B. Credit: SLD

The Sgt. emphasized the hands on approach to shaping the way ahead for the squadron.

Every day you learn something new.  Every day you find something new, whether you want to or not.

But we are hands on. We don’t like to sit idle, and we don’t like to do paperwork, we’d rather be out on the flight line doing our jobs.

The Sgt. also provided the sense of excitement to present at the creation.

It’s interesting to see how things work down from a perspective of a full operational squadron, loading, flying weapons, and doing everything it’s capable of. 

To come into a squadron where it’s still learning, it’s interesting and fun at the same time because you’re the one shaping the way it’s going to be done for the next 15-20 years. 

He also emphasized that they were re-writing the manuals based on their experience with the aircraft, and this meant accelerating the learning process.

“We have applied lessons learned from the Harrier and are now in advance of where some thought we would be because we are blending our experience with our growing knowledge of the aircraft.” 

The Sgt. is hoping to move with the squadron and to be able to deploy with the jet to combat.

“This is the whole point of training – to use it and to support the MAGTF.”