No media team has followed the birthing and growth of the F-35B more than the Second Line of Defense team.
We started with the standup at Eglin AFB. We followed the efforts at Yuma and the departure of the first combat ready squadron to Japan and their initial use in the deterrence of North Korea. We have seen them operate shipboard on the USS Wasp and have talked with maintainers, trainers, weapons loaders, and pilots since the beginning.
Now the Marines have launched the new era of a shipboard fifth generation aircraft striking from sea. This is a very significant step in shaping capabilities to deal with the spectrum of warfare, including dealing with peer competitors.
According to a press release by the 5th Fleet with regard to its first combat strike in the Middle East on September 27, 2018:
During this mission, the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander.
“The F-35B is a significant enhancement in theater amphibious and air warfighting capability, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy,” said Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. “As part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, this platform supports operations on the ground from international waters, all while enabling maritime superiority that enhances stability and security.”
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the first combat-deployed MEU to replace the AV-8B Harrier with the F-35B Lightning II. The F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 are currently embarked on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) as part of Essex Amphibious Ready Group.
The Israelis have been conducting F-35 operations for some time in the Middle East and now the US can join in with a sea base capability as well to operate with them as needed.
A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 28th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron departs on an aerial refuel mission from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
The KC-135 refuels U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The F-35B has deployed to the Middle East for the first time as part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the first combat-deployed MEU to utilize the F-35B, replacing its predecessor the AV-8B Harrier.
The F-35B combines next-generation fighter characteristics of radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed, fighter agility and advanced logistical support with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in the U.S. inventory, providing the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) significantly improved capability to approach missions from a position of strength
Video by Staff Sgt. Rion Ehrman
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs