Watch an F-35B launch from the USS Wasp during the first operational testing of air/ship integration at sea off the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.
Royal Navy aircraft technicians working within the US Marine Corps maintenance team keep the F-35B Lightning flying.
The F-35 is the worlds largest single defence programme and the UK works closely with the United States; Royal Navy and RAF personnel are fully embedded with their US colleagues, gaining experience that can be brought home to benefit the UK’s future aircraft carrier operations.
The F-35B is “ready to go right now” if needed to fly combat missions, the head of US Marine Aviation has said.
Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said:
“There were a lot of people out here that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC [initial operational capability] because it would be politically untenable not to do that. IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat.
If we think we need to do that, we will. We’re ready to do that.”
The US Marine Corps plans to disperse its F-35Bs among forward deployed bases to enhance survivability while remaining close to a battlespace, similar to RAF Harrier deployment late in the Cold War which relied on the use of off-base locations that offered short runways, shelter, and concealment.