Navy & Royal Air Force personnel were onboard USS WASP for F-35B
Lightning II trials
six United States Marine Corps (USMC) Lightning II aircraft were onboard
USS WASP, off the coast of the United States’ Eastern Seaboard.
The aircraft were assessing the ship/air integration and effectiveness
across flight operations, communications, maintenance support and logistical
supply. Operational Test activity will include carrier qualifications
for aircraft take-off and landing, and air combat/air defence missions
OCEAN (May 18, 2015) Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete
vertical landings aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1)
during the opening day of the first session of operational testing.
As the future of Marine Corps aviation, the F-35B will eventually replace
all aircraft from three legacy Marine Corps platforms; the AV-8B Harrier,
the F/A-18 Hornet, and the EA-6B Prowler. The aircraft are stationed
with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, Marine Aircraft Group
31, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Beaufort, South Carolina and Marine Fighter
Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing,
Yuma, Arizona. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Released)
II is a STOVL aircraft: Short Take Off Vertical Landing. It will place
the UK at the forefront of fighter technology, giving the RAF a true
multi-role all weather, day and night capability, able to operate from
well-established land bases, deployed locations or the Royal Navy’s
Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.
The Royal Navy’s vision for tactical integration of the F-35B
into their current arsenal is similar to the Marine Corps’ plan
to integrate the F-35 with legacy aircraft, such as the AV-8B Harrier
and the F/A-18 Hornet, and gradually phase out legacy aircraft over
the coming decades.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Neil Mathieson, the UK’s F-35
Ship Integration Lead, said:
By 2020, UK combat airpower will consist of Typhoon and F-35B Lightning
II, a highly potent and capable mix of fourth and fifth generation fighter
aircraft. With Typhoon already established as one of the premier multi-role
fighters in the world, the F-35 brings a complementary next-generation
level of survivability and lethality. This will ultimately provide the
UK with an unprecedented level of capability in a single platform.
In February, the UK stood up their first F-35 Squadron at Edwards Air
Force Base, California. The historic 17 (Reserve) Squadron is now responsible
for the entire operational test and evaluation of the UK’s F-35s.
Personnel from 17 (R) Sqn, comprising engineers and pilots from the
Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, fly and maintain the two UK F-35B jets
independently from their US colleagues.
US Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan is the Program Executive Officer
for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office. He said :
United Kingdom participation in the F-35 program has been absolutely
critical to our success. Since the beginning, UK test pilots and engineers
have been fully integrated and work shoulder to shoulder with us as
we deliver the F-35 to the warfighter.
Evidence and experience gained from this event will provide the basis
for future F-35B deployments as the USMC work towards their Initial
Operating Capability (IOC) in Summer 2015. UK F-35B pilots will begin
operating the next generation stealth fighter from bases in England
starting in 2018, and are on track to fly from Queen Elizabeth Class
aircraft carriers in 2020.
Navy engineer, Ian Tidball takes you on a tour of F35B Lightning II. UK