MCAS Yuma receives first operational F-35B

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Yuma,Arizona, received its first F-35B short take-off vertical landing (STOVL)version of the tri-service Joint Strike Fighter on 16 November. 784515.jpg

The aircraft, which will be operated by Marine StrikeFighter Squadron (All Weather)-121, was flown in by Maj A. C. Liberman at about13:00 local time. Next week, VMFA(AW)-121 will be formally redesignated as anF-35B squadron. It is currently designated as a Boeing F/A-18 Hornet unit.

VMFA-121 is set to become the first operational F-35B unitanywhere, but the Pentagon has yet to decide when any version of the F-35 willbe declared operational. Also it is unclear if the USMC has already resolved potentialvulnerabilities to the F-35′s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS)  to cyber-attacks–which would precludethe use of classified data on the system and prevent the unit from executingits mission.

Though the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB,Florida, was the first unit with line pilots and maintainers operating theF-35, it is a training rather than operational unit.

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