|F-35 taking off|
An F-35 takes off from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma the morning after the futuristic jets were cleared to resume flying again.
|MCAS Yuma 2013 Airshow|
Crowds gathered to watch aerial performances, as well as view numerous types of aircraft at the 51st Annual MCAS Yuma Airshow on Saturday.
|Green Knights reach vertical goal|
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing conducted its first F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Short Take off, Vertical Landing aboard MCAS Yuma. LOANED VIDEO/MCAS Yuma, Lance Cpl. Ryan Lampro
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F-35B makes first vertical takeoff-landing at MCAS
A F-35B Lightning II from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 conducted its first short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVAL) Thursday morning from the flightline at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.
Maj. Richard Rusnok, an F-35B Lightning II test pilot, conducted the maneuvers, which also included performing the Marine Corps' first-ever F-35B hover and vertical landing done outside of a testing environment.
“The first STOVL flight for an F-35B outside of the test environment was another milestone achieved by the Marine Corps and the Green Knights today here at MCAS Yuma,” said VMFA-121's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Scott, who accompanied the maneuvers flying a second F-35B as a chase aircraft. “The F-35 program and specifically the F-35B have made significant progress to make this possible.”
Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs at the air station, said Thursday's flights also marked another first. It was the first time, she said, that the squadron has had two F-35Bs operating at the same time.
VMFA-121 will be home to approximately 300 Marines and is expected to receive additional F-35s throughout the next eight to 12 months, with a total of 16 aircraft scheduled to arrive by late 2013. As the squadron expands its operations and strength, it will continue revolutionizing expeditionary Marine air-ground combat for all types of battlefields through the use of MCAS Yuma training ranges in Arizona and California. VMFA-121 will be home to approximately 300 Marines and is expected to receive additional F-35s throughout the next 8 to 12 months, with a total of 16 aircraft scheduled to arrive by late 2013.
Reidinger said MCAS Yuma currently has three F-35Bs, but expects to receive two or three more in the coming weeks.
In January, the B variant of the F-35s were grounded for nearly a month as a precaution after a fueldraulic hose failure was discovered in one of the test jets. They were grounded again nine days later, and one day after the first local flight here in Yuma, when a cracked engine blade was discovered during a routine inspection of one of the test plane's engines.
Unlike the past suspension, which was only for the B variant, the most recent grounding was for all versions of the aircraft. The grounding was lifted nine days later.
VMFA-121 is also the first squadron to join Marine Aircraft Group 13, which is currently composed of four AV-8B Harrier squadrons a Marine Wing support squadron and a Marine aviation logistics squadron.
In all, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma will get five squadrons of F-35B's each with 16 aircraft, and one operational test and evaluation squadron of eight aircraft. These 88 aircraft will replace Yuma's four existing squadrons of 56 AV-8B Harriers.
The F-35B is one of three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter and is slated to replace the Marine Corps' aging F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers and EA-6B Prowlers. It will provide multi-role, fifth-generation capabilities in the form of one common tactical fixed-wing aircraft, reducing maintenance costs while ensuring the Marine Corps maintains the tactical aircraft dominance required to deter potential adversaries and protect the nation's interests.