The F-35 and the Warlords: A Look Back and a Look Ahead


We recently visited the Warlords at Beaufort MCAS.

We had a chance to meet with the CO of the squadron and to watch flight demos at this year’s airshow hosted by Beaufort MCAS.

This gave us a chance to reflect back at the more than a decade of dealing with the Warlords as they have brought the F-35 to life as a combat capability.

We have had the opportunity earlier to observe the standup of the Osprey Nation and its contributions in launching what one Marine leader called a “tsunami of change.”

Clearly, the F-35 has continued that tsunami and we will be observing and shaping a broader strategic narrative of the next key USMC air system generating signifiant change, namely the CH-53K.

In this report, we have begun with the most recent visit and then went back to the exit interview with the “godfather” of the F-35B, namely, Col. “Turbo” Tomassetti.

We visited “Turbo” many times at Eglin AFB as the F-35 was first being stood up.

We included the final interview which we did with him, namely his exit interview from Eglin in 2013.

We then navigate through a decade of interviews which highlight the evolution of the Warlords standing up and operating the new aircraft.

The Warloards and the F-35

For an ebook version of the report, see the following

The featured photo shows Capt. Frank Zastoupil with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) flying the F-35B Lightning II during the 2019 Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Air Show, April 27.

MCAS Beaufort hosts the air show in order to bring the community together and demonstrate U.S. Marine Corps Aviation Combat Element and Marine Air-Ground Task Force capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brittney Vella)