First two Marine Corps F-35s put in training

The first two Lockheed Martin production model F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft were delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps this week. The two jets are now assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33rdFighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla.

photo by Keith Robinson

The two aircraft, piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann and U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Taylor, took a 90-minute ferry flight from Fort Worth to Florida. Both 5th Generation fighters will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.

F-35 STOVLs met many critical milestones in 2011. In October, F-35Bs conducted their first set of ship trials 20 miles off the coast of Wallops Island, Va. During the 19-day testing period, BF-2 and BF-4 conducted 72 vertical landings and short takeoffs, accomplishing all test milestones during the mission. For the year, F-35Bs accomplished 333 System Development and Demonstration test flights and 268 vertical landings.

BF-6 and BF-8 are the first two F-35 deliveries to the Department of Defense in 2012 and the seventh and eighth F-35 aircraft delivered to Eglin AFB since July 2011. Previously, six U.S. Air Force F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jets were delivered to the base.

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