Successful test of new fighter is good news
The F-35B Lightning II fighter jet this week moved a step closer to its deployment to our Marine base.
It was announced that the airplane — the first of which are scheduled to arrive at MCAS Yuma by the end of the year — successfully completed an airborne weapons release test Wednesday indicating it could engage in ground and air combat.
That's good news for Yuma, where intense and extensive construction is under way to prepare for the arrival of the technological marvel at MCAS. A flight simulator building, hangars, an auxiliary landing field and various infrastructure upgrades are in progress.
The new facilities are key to the successful transition to the new fighter jet, which eventually will replace the aging Harrier aircraft now being used by the Marines. The change-out will take place over a number of years and will involve the addition of personnel at the local base as well as construction work.
The F-35B is a variant of the joint strike force fighter that will be used in various forms by all branches of the U.S. military in the future, as well as by a number of foreign nations. The F-35B version has important short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities to meet the particular needs of the Marines.
The Air Force will get a different version and it was recently announced that Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix will also play a critical first role in training pilots to fly the new planes for that military branch. That means our state as a whole will see substantial economic benefits from the deployment of the joint strike fighters.
Yuma will be on the cutting edge of the final testing of this new aircraft that will likely serve the nation for decades to come. We can be proud of the role we are playing in the nation's military preparedness.