The US Marine Corp’s Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 has declared their initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35C fifth-generation fighter designed to operate from US Navy aircraft carriers.
Initial operational capability declaration marks a significant accomplishment for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), enabling VMFA-314 to deploy the F-35C onto aircraft carriers where they will be able to support combat operations anywhere in the world.
“The F-35 is an expeditionary platform that extends the reach of our Marines and machines, and increases our ability to support joint and allied partners at a moment’s notice,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, 3rd MAW commanding general. “By effectively employing the F-35, MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] commanders have the potential to dominate our adversaries in a joint battlespace, in the air and out at sea.”
Having the most advanced stealth fighter jets the world has ever seen is only the beginning. A strategic and tactical understanding of how to operate and properly maintain the F-35 and its advanced capabilities is essential to its employment in an increasingly non-permissive maritime domain.
To receive this qualification, squadrons must meet the Headquarters Marine Corps standards, which define the minimum number of trained Marines, mission ready aircraft and trained pilots needed in order for a squadron to become IOC complete.
“Our maintenance department was critical to the success of IOC. In addition to accepting and inspecting the multiple aircraft that arrived throughout the year, the Marines maintained a high level of aircraft readiness,” said Lt. Col. Duncan French, VMFA-314 executive officer. “Those mission capable aircraft allowed the pilots to train in the appropriate missions required of IOC, as well as contributed towards the readiness metrics of IOC.”
“VMFA-314 is the first F-35C squadron in the Marine Corps. The F-35C’s unique capabilities, compared to the F-35B and legacy aircraft, provide the Marine Corps with a complementary increase in combat projection and the ability to operate from the US Navy’s aircraft carriers.”
“This achievement ultimately would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the Marines, Sailors, and civilian contractors assigned to VMFA-314,” said Lt. Col. Brendan Walsh, VMFA-314 commanding officer. “The successful transition of the Black Knights to the F-35C culminating in this IOC declaration is a testament to the squadron’s distinguished legacy of pioneering new aircraft.”
VFA-147, the US Navy’s first F-35C squadron, is already preparing for a 2021 deployment aboard USS Carl Vinson.