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USMC F-35Bs undergoing shipboard operational tests

Six F-35B variants of the U.S. Marine Corps have begun two weeks of shipboard operational testing.

By
Richard Tomkins
Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during the opening day of the first session of operational testing, May 18, 2015. As the future of Marine Corps aviation, the F-35B will eventually replace all aircraft from three legacy Marine Corps platforms: the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet and the EA-6B Prowler. The aircraft are stationed with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, Marine Aircraft Group 31, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Beaufort, South Carolina and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Yuma, Arizona. Photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/U.S. Marine Corps
Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1) during the opening day of the first session of operational testing, May 18, 2015. As the future of Marine Corps aviation, the F-35B will eventually replace all aircraft from three legacy Marine Corps platforms: the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet and the EA-6B Prowler. The aircraft are stationed with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, Marine Aircraft Group 31, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Beaufort, South Carolina and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Yuma, Arizona. Photo by Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/U.S. Marine Corps

ARLINGTON, Va., May 19 (UPI) -- The first shipboard operational tests of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters are being conducted from the carrier USS Wasp.

The Marine Corps said six of its F-35B aircraft landed on the carrier on Monday and that the OT-1 phase will occur over the next two weeks while the vessel cruises off the U.S. East Coast.

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The testing is to assess the integration of the F-35B while operating across a wide array of flight and deck operations. Specific objectives of the testing includes assessing day and night flight operations; digital interoperability of aircraft and ship systems; the effectiveness of the landing signal officer's launch and recovery software; day and night weapons loading; and all aspects of maintenance, logistics, and sustainment support of the F-35B at sea.

The Marine Corps said data collected and lessons learned the OT-1 phase will lay the groundwork for F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers.

The F-35B is expected to receive an initial operating capability declaration in July.

"The F-35 Lightning II is the most versatile, agile and technologically-advanced aircraft in the skies today, enabling our Corps to be the nation's force in readiness, regardless of the threat, and regardless of the location of the battle," said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Deputy Commandant for Marine Corps Aviation. "As we modernize our fixed-wing aviation assets for the future, the continued development and fielding of the short take-off and vertical landing, the F-35B remains the centerpiece of this effort."

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