The Integration of the F-35B into USMC Operations


This is the latest in a series of Second Line of Defense reports on fifth generation aircraft, and the shaping of fifth-generation enabled combat operations. The testing onboard the USS America as well as the work of the squadrons at Yuma USMC Air Station, namely, MAWTS-1, VMX-1, VMFA-121 and VMFA-211 is highlighted.

This special report provides an update on the introduction and integration of the F-35B into evolving USMC operations. With the significant change introduced into the amphibious fleet and for USMC land based operations by the Osprey, the F-35 B is accelerating the transformation of the CORPS into a wide-ranging insertion force able to operate across the range of military operations.

The report begins with an update on the recent testing onboard the USS America with regard to the F-35B with the Osprey onboard as well. We then turn to insights provided from Yuma Marine Corps Air Station by MAWTS-1, and the two operational F-35 squadrons, which have been based there. The Green Knights or VMFA-121 is on the move to Japan and will go back to the origins, namely Pacific operations.

We will then conclude with a series of articles, which look at the impact of the integration of the Osprey and the F-35B on the sea base and the evolving strategic options, which are emerging along with the tactical innovations of the new force. The ampbhious ready group is being transformed into an amphibious task force, which is highly “Integratable” with air, and maritime based combat forces which together will shape what the US Navy leadership refers to as a kill web.

In short, although the F-35 is an innovative piece of combat technology it is its interaction with other key elements of innovation, which are opening up new capabilities and options for an integrated air and maritime force. And closely associated with the Marines in all of this is the UK, which is a core participant from the ground up in terms of integrating the F-35B with their new sea basing capabilities as well.

If there is a political will to build up the US Navy ship numbers, no better investment can be made than in the ampbhious fleet where the sea base is experiencing a revolution. Investment in new amphibious ships coupled with the investments in Ospreys, F-35s and CH-53Ks will provide US leaders with significantly expanded strategic flexibility and tactical operations.

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