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Marine Corps inducts F-35B into air arm

  |   Feb. 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps aviation has introduced Lockheed's F-35B Lightning II aircraft into its fleet.

The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 took delivery of the F-35B Lightning II fighter, into the Marine Corps aviation arsenal at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

At the induction ceremony Marine Corps assistant commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford pointed out the aircraft's characteristics, including supersonic speed, radar-evading stealth, extreme agility and short takeoff vertical landing capability.

"It's innovation like that represented here today which has kept Marine aviation ready and relevant for the last 100 years," he said Monday in a base release.

"These Marines are part of the cutting edge of marine aviation," Dunford said. "The ability to combine supersonic flight and radar-evading stealth with the short takeoff and vertical landing capability needed aboard an amphibious warship is among the greatest innovations the aviation community, much less Marine aviation, has ever known.

"Combined with the Navy's F-35C carrier variant of the aircraft, it gives the nation double the number of capital ships capable of operating a fifth-generation, multirole fighter."

The F-35B Lightning II is expected to replace the Marine Corps' F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers and EA-6B Prowlers, along with reducing maintenance costs as it ensures the Marine Corps' future tactical air dominance.

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