"The F-35B is the world's only 5th generation, supersonic, stealthy combat aircraft that can also hover, take off, and land virtually anywhere Marines are in action. Through the hard work and dedication of the military and contractor team, the F-35B will define the future of Marine Corps aviation," says Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer.
Official welcoming ceremonies at Yuma marked the handover of the jets, which are assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 residing with the host Marine Aircraft Group 13; at the same time, delivery of the first three operational-coded, 5th generation F-35B STOVL fighters marks the beginning of STOVL tactical operational training at Air Station Yuma.
The F-35 Lightning II 5th generation fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment. Three variants of the F-35 replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least nine other countries.
Delivery of these three aircraft increase the number of STOVL aircraft provided to the Marine Corps to 16 and bring the total number of F-35s delivered in 2012 to 20. Thirteen Marine Corps STOVLs are assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 at Eglin AFB, Fla., in support of pilot and maintainer training.
Lockheed Martin is producing the F-35 with its industrial partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.