The US Air Force’s 33rd Wing stationed at Eglin AFB, Florida, received its 12th F-35 yesterday, 15 May. The aircraft was a US Marine Corps short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant jet assigned to VMFA-501.
USMC test pilot Lt Col Fred Schenk ferried the jet, BF-11, from Lockheed’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility on a 90-minute flight.
F-35B local area flights should start at the base any day now; pilots have started taxiing the aircraft this Monday, 14 May.
Meanwhile, earlier today Air Force Chief Gen Norton Schwartz said that the F-35B can’t generate the sorties it needs to replace the A-10–the USAF will stick with a pure F-35A fleet. The USAF had considered adopting the F-35B to replace the A-10 at one time.
The Marines, of course, dispute Schwartz’s comments.
Schwartz also doesn’t think unmanned aircraft will replace manned fighters anytime soon.
Read the article here.
Later in the evening, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta paid tribute to Marine Corps aviation during a ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial–sometimes referred to as the Iwo Jima Memorial. He strongly endorsed the USMC’s need for a fifth-generation fighter in the form of the F-35B and also the MV-22.