US Marine Corps finally divulges F-35B order count

It seems the most closely guarded secret in the F-35 program has been, strangely enough, the order breakdown between the US Navy and US Marine Corps. The combined purchase is 680 aircraft.

But the order split between the USMC’s F-35B and the USN’s F-35C has remained a mystery. I’ve heard suggestions of a roughly 50/50 split, but nothing specific.

This morning’s Federal Register — as spotted by my colleague John Croft — finally solves the mystery.

The USMC submitted two environmental impact statements, as federal law requires, for plans to base F-35Bs on the east coast and west coast. The statements contain the first official breakdown of the F-35 order count. Here it is:

East Coast: 10 active duty squadrons, one reserve squadron of up to 16 aircraft each. Plus, two training squadrons of 20 aircraft each. Total number: 216.

West Coast: 10 active duty squadrons, one reserve squadron of up to 16 aircraft each. One operational evaluation unit of six aircraft. Total number: 182.

(Note: Both totals add up to 10 fewer aircraft than the maximum. I can’t explain why.)

That adds up to a USMC planned order for 398 aircraft. Deductively, the USN’s order count would amount to 282 aircraft.

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5 Responses to US Marine Corps finally divulges F-35B order count

  1. Dave 15 January, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Actually, that jives with what the USMC JSF requirements officer (I can’t remember his name) told me several years ago… at teh time he said the Corps. required around 420 F-35Bs out of the total DoN order of 680.

    The reason your totals are 10 short could be because the attrition reserve and depot maintenance aircraft weren’t included. Just a guess.

  2. SMSgt Mac 16 January, 2009 at 5:01 am #

    My first thought was attrition reserve or pipeline aircraft as well, but I don’t think that’s enough aircraft for the pipeline, and the Dept of the Navy has been known to buy their attrition aircraft in small batches after initial buys to keep the production lines hot. Don’t know if that philosophy can survive this generation though. I suspect that holding the division of production planned close to the vest is good Navy policy. As a lump quantity, it made it harder for potential critics to sound off. Couldn’t very well criticize the Navy for buying too many or too little if you don’t know how many they are actually buying eh? That may be more credit than they deserve, but I’ve learned to always suspect the Navy and expect the Spanish Inquisition!

  3. SMSgt Mac 16 January, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    Almost forgot. Perhaps the ‘extras’ are for OT&E, and the rest of the operational test fleet?

  4. Dave 16 January, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    The other possiblity is Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One or NSAWC airframes for the weapons instructor courses.

  5. Dave 16 January, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    The other possiblity is Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One or NSAWC aircraft for the weapons instructor courses.

    (Potential double post)

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