New Marine jet represents key step for future
The arrival of the Marine Corps' first next generation jet fighter – the F-35B – at its new home at MCAS Yuma is something for which we can be grateful this Thanksgiving week.
It is an important step in both our community's future and the future military preparedness of the nation.
The F-35 fighter – there are three versions of it planned for different branches of the U.S. military – has been undergoing development and testing for years, but it is now moving into the operational stage and Yuma's Marine base will have the privilege to be at the forefront of that phase.
The first Marine F-35B – the short takeoff, vertical landing version of the new fighter – arrived here last week. Others will follow at monthly intervals until the first operational fighter squadron – known as VMFA-121 or the Green Knights – is at full strength with 16 planes.
Then other squadrons will follow. MCAS Yuma is scheduled to have a total of five fighter squadrons and one test and evaluation squadron.
The impact on the base and on our community will be significant in terms of personnel coming to MCAS and construction of the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the changes. In short, it is a big deal.
Because MCAS Yuma is leading the way for this phase of the rollout, it will be the focus of attention for some time to come. That means our community will also be the focus of attention.
It has been a long road to this point, with some uncertainties along the way. There is still a long way to go as the new F-35 fighter proves its merit. And the one now sitting at MCAS begins it all.