Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing has welcomed the first F-35C Lightning II fighter jet to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron, according to the Marine Corps.
Lt. Col. Cedar Hinton, commanding officer of VMFA-314, flew the aircraft from Naval Station Lemore, Calif., to MCAS Miramar on Jan. 21, the Marine Corps said Thursday in a press release announcing the flight.
While the Marine Corps also uses the F-35B, which is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, the F-35C variant of the aircraft is designed for use from an aircraft carrier. The F-35C is the first 5th generation stealth strike fighter jet designed for that mission, according to officials.
"Transitioning a squadron into a new aircraft with many new Marines comes with a lot of challenges," Hinton said. "However, it also provides a unique opportunity to start fresh and build a strong squadron culture from the ground up. We are all extremely excited to ensure the 'Black Knights' continue our legacy of leading from the front as we deliver this new capability to 3rd MAW."
The Marine Fighter Attack Squadron's history dates back to 1943, when it was commissioned in North Carolina as the "Bob's Cats, later taking on the names the "Black Knights" with the introduction of the F-4D Skyray.
The 3rd MAW is the Marine Corps' largest aircraft wing and remains combat-ready and deployable on short notice, the branch said.
"The aircraft is designed and built explicitly for aircraft carrier operations and gives the MAW a marked advantage in preserving security throughout the globe. The addition of the F-35Cs to 3rd MAW will serve a key role in ensuring we remain well-equipped to meet the threats of tomorrow," said a post on the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing's Facebook page.