The first F-35C Lightning II, carrier variant, for the U.S. Marine Corps touched-down at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida after a trip across the skies from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth. The purpose is to begin training in support of carrier-based operations.
U.S. Marine Lt. Col. J.T. “Tank” Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander and F-35 pilot, delivered the new F-35C to Strike Fighter Squadron 101, the Navy’s only F-35 fleet replacement squadron. This aircraft is the first of five Marine Corps F-35Cs that will be delivered to VFA- 101 on Eglin.
Marine F-35 pilots primarily fly F-35Bs – a short take-off vertical landing variant designed to deploy to austere locations and operate aboard amphibious ships.
“This is a big day for the Marine Corps tactical air community and a huge honor to be able to deliver our first F-35C,” said Ryan. “It marks the beginning of our training in the carrier variant and puts us that much closer to standing up our first F-35C operational fleet squadron.”
The F-35C model brings 25 percent more range and a bigger weapons bay. It also allows the Marine Corps to fly aboard Navy aircraft carriers, which continues an effective and long-standing tactical air integration program between the Navy and Marine Corps.