The F-35 airframe will be used as a depot maintenance trainer as well as a test-bed for sustainment engineering.
Fleet Readiness Center East and the F-35 Joint Program Office collaborated to have an F-35 airframe delivered to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina, Mar. 8, 2021. The airframe will be used as a depot maintenance trainer as well as a test-bed for sustainment engineering. According to MCAS Cherry Point Facebook Page, this will allow employees a chance to test their skills on the airframe before being required to perform tasks on a fleet aircraft.
“We’re excited to have this airframe available,” said Matthew Crisp, the Joint Program Office depot and modifications lead. “It allows us to train our workforce and test new engineering sustainment initiatives without impacting a fleet aircraft. It will only make us better prepared to support fleet readiness.”
The F-35B and F-35C replaced the EA-6B and will replace the F/A-18 and the AV-8B currently in service with the US Marine Corps (USMC). The USMC will procure a total of 420 F-35s (353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs). The F-35B declared IOC in July 2015 with VMFA-121 at MCAS Yuma. The squadron subsequently moved to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan in January 2017.
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 FRSs and first USMC F-35C squadron. The USMC is currently contributing F-35C aircraft, instructor pilots and maintainers to USN F-35C FRSs. VMFA-314 is the first USMC F-35C squadron. The unit is expected to train at a pace that will put them at a T2 rating by the middle of FY 2021, prepared to deploy in support of a CVN TAI deployment in early 2022. The Marine Corps will procure a total of 67 F35Cs to equip 4 Squadrons.
The full transition from legacy to F-35 will complete with the transition of the second reserve squadron in 2031.
Photo credit: U.S. Marine Corps