The F-35B’s maiden deployment is set for late 2017 and its bound for the Western Pacific.

The jet will deploy aboard an amphibious flattop and the US Marine Corps are planning a more powerful escort force to support it, according to Admiral Scott Swift, head of Pacific Fleet, as reported by the Marine Times.

The F-35B has already flown from American assault ships as part of a series of tests, which largely went well.

The US Marine Corps has said it is also capable of deploying their F-35’s to the Middle East, if necessary. The F-35B variant was declared combat-ready by the Marines in July, 2015.

Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said:

“If a contingency arose, and I’ve got an IOC squadron, I could put six or more F-35Bs on the USS Wasp and sail into harm’s way and do the job and basically do what our nation needs to do with a fifth-generation aircraft from a seabase, the first one ever.”

The cost of the aircraft has also started falling, bringing to an end the slew of criticism about cost. Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, had this to say.

“It is a fact this program is over budget from 2001’s baseline. It’s just true. We will never underrun that number. We will never save that money. It’s gone. What matters is since that time, what’s happened to the cost on the program? It’s gone down, not gone up. Judge the program today, not where it’s been, but where it is and where it’s going.”

The aircraft’s B variant was declared operational in July by General Joe Dunford, US Marine Corps commandant.

In declaring it operational, the US Marines described the jet as “capable of conducting close air support, offensive and defensive counter air, air interdiction, assault support escort and armed reconnaissance.”

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Stephen Priestley
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Excellent…

Pavel Neochotny
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at last 🙂 so fingers crossed

David Anthony Simpson
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Hardly. Its already done test and evaluation deployments up to squadron size. This is the first operational unit deployment.

Hugh Mitchell
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Hugh Mitchell

All the nay sayers negative comments about not being able to cross deck blah blah no catapults blah blah navalised typhoons harriers etc seem to forget that there’s 10? Or so American flat tops that will be using the f35b. That and i daresay in an emergency an f35b van lambs on pretty much anything larger than an OPV…. maybe a bit of scorching but hey ho.

Hugh Mitchell
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Hugh Mitchell

All the nay sayers negative comments about not being able to cross deck blah blah no catapults blah blah navalised typhoons harriers etc seem to forget that there’s 10? Or so American flat tops that will be using the f35b. That and i daresay in an emergency an f35b can land on pretty much anything larger than an OPV…. maybe a bit of scorching but hey ho.