U.S. Navy and Marine Corps (USMC) are planning for the first shipboard deployment of the Lockheed Martin F35B Lightning II within the next year, the Navy has announced.
The attendees of the Joint Strike Fighter Sustainment Summit focused on planning and preparing the logistical support for the F-35B Lightning II first deployment scheduled to happen within the next year.
The summit was hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT) and Marine Corps Forces, Pacific at COMPACFLT Headquarters June 27-28.
During the summit Rear Adm. John Palmer, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, delivered remarks to more than 50 service members and civilians to include representatives from Lockheed Martin, who built the aircraft, Pratt and Whitney, who built the engine, Marine Corps Headquarters, Defense Logistics Agency, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Commander Naval Air Forces Pacific, Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic, Commander Naval Surface Forces Pacific, and Military Sealift Command.
“The summit was primarily built to maximize communication, elevate problems, and arrive at solutions. This aircraft has a unique maintenance and support structure, and it is unlike any aviation weapon system presently in the Navy and Marine Corps inventories,” said Palmer, U.S. Pacific Fleet director of logistics, fleet supply and ordnance.
According to Palmer, deploying the F-35B will require focused efforts by all stakeholders to ensure logistics resources are available to support the Fleet introduction to include funding, spares, tools, support equipment, information systems support, and training.
“The aircraft and engine are large and require keen planning for hangar and flight deck spotting & storage. The best strategy for overcoming the Joint Strike Fighter roll-out challenge is to engage in continuous communications across all stakeholders,” Palmer added.
After reaching initial operational capability, 10 F-35Bs were delivered to the fleet.
“The Marine Corps has been successfully operating the F-35B Lightning II in the western Pacific for almost 7 months now with VMFA-121 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan. Next year, we will make the first shipboard deployment for the squadron as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. The F-35B is a tremendous upgrade from the legacy AV-8B and these new capabilities will be demonstrated in future operations. This aircraft, unlike any others in the past, brings unique challenges due to the global logistic network associated with this platform,” said Brig. Gen. Brian C. Cavanaugh, deputy commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.
The aircraft is a short takeoff, vertical landing (STOVL) variant, and is the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft. It’s designed to operate from austere bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones. It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways on major bases. The F-35B will replace the AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack and air defense missions.
It has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
The program is the most expensive military weapons system in history.