US Marine Corps' F-35B declared operational

The US Marine Corps said its F-35B Lightning II aircraft has reached initial operational capability with a squadron of 10 F-35Bs ready for world-wide deployment.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), based in Yuma, Arizona, is the first squadron in military history to become operational with an F-35 variant, following a five-day Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI), which concluded July 17.

“I am pleased to announce that VMFA-121 has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in the F-35B, as defined by requirements outlined in the June 2014 Joint Report to Congressional Defense Committees,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps.

As the future of Marine Corps tactical aviation, the F-35 will eventually replace three legacy platforms: the AV- 8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet, and the EA-6B Prowler.