As the Marine Corps continues to make changes to meet the demands of the rapidly evolving future operating environment, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 has reached a new milestone in Marine Corps history as they declare their full operational capability (FOC) for the F-35C Lightning II.
“VMFA-314 is the first F-35C squadron in the Marine Corps to declare FOC. They are now full up round and bring the incredible 5th generation capability to 3rd MAW. They will deploy as part of a Carrier Strike Group next year.” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, 3rd MAW commanding general, in the article First USMC F-35C squadron declares full operational capability by 1st Lt. Charles Allen, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “FOC for the Black knights is yet another step forward in achieving Force Design objectives. The Black Knights are ready- 3rd MAW is ready.”
FOC is significant in its confirmation that VMFA-314 is fully prepared and equipped successfully deploy aboard United States Navy aircraft carriers, marking the first FOC declaration for Marine Corps. This inaugural event is met after VMFA-314 received their first F-35C on Jan. 21, 2020 when their first jet arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar from Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore.
“Many hours were spent maintaining aircraft, launching and recovering aircraft in Miramar, at other military facilities, and aboard the ship to conduct the training required to meet these goals,” said Major Derek Heinz, VMFA-314 operations officer. “The Marines of VMFA-314 have gained confidence in fighting this aircraft and feel confident we can do so in combat if called upon.”
VMFA-314 is currently continuing its preparations towards future deployments by conducting tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA), marking the first F-35C squadron to conduct TSTA in the Marine Corps.
In order to support transitions to F-35C, the US Marine Corps (USMC) procured 23 F-35Cs in FY19, and continues to deliver trained pilots to the joint Navy/Marine Corps F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRSs) and first USMC F-35C squadron. The USMC is currently contributing F-35C aircraft, instructor pilots and maintainers to USN F-35C FRSs. The Marine Corps will procure a total of 67 F35Cs to equip 4 Squadrons.
The F-35C is one of three variants fielded by the 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 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 other variants. The F-35C is 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.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy via USNI News
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