The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 declares their initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft.
The IOC declaration marks a significant accomplishment for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), enabling VMFA-314 to deploy the F-35C onto aircraft carriers where they will be able to support combat operations anywhere in the world.
To receive this qualification, squadrons must meet the Headquarters Marine Corps standards, which define the minimum number of trained Marines, mission ready aircraft and trained pilots needed in order for a squadron to become IOC complete.
“The F-35 is an expeditionary platform that extends the reach of our Marines and machines, and increases our ability to support joint and allied partners at a moment’s notice,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, 3rd MAW commanding general. “By effectively employing the F-35, MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] commanders have the potential to dominate our adversaries in a joint battlespace, in the air and out at sea.”
The F-35’s ability to combine advanced stealth capabilities, integrated avionics and the most powerful sensor package the Department of Defense has ever seen allows it to operate in contested areas, and gives the Marine Corps an unparalleled ability to maintain air superiority in dynamic, unpredictable and competitive environments.
The capability to employ the F-35 alongside 3rd MAW’s other capabilities further enables support of fleet Marines and joint and allied partners preserves 3rd MAW’s ability to dominate the battlespace for the MAGTF and joint commanders.
Aviation history was made when 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW), the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, welcomed its first F-35C Lightning II to MCAS Miramar on Jan. 21, 2020. The 5th Generation aircraft – piloted by Hinton – marked the arrival of the U.S. Marine Corps’ first F-35C to Fleet Marine Force.
The F-35C is one of three variants of F-35 fighter aircraft – the others are F-35A and F-35B – fielded by the U.S. Department of Defense. It is a result of decades of advancements that provide aviation capabilities previously thought unattainable.
The “C” variant was designed to operate from an aircraft carrier (catapult launch and arrested recovery, CATOBAR) and is the first 5th generation long-range stealth strike fighter jet designed for that mission. The F-35C’s control surfaces and landing gear are better equipped for carrier operation than the “A” and “B” variants of the aircraft flown by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Marine Corps, respectively.
The F-35C is also equipped with larger internal fuel storage, which when combined with its ability to refuel in-flight, extends its range and allows for enhanced flight time when compared to other aircraft.