Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A sundown ceremony for the storied Marine Attack Squadron 311 deactivated the unit as it and Marine Attack Squadron 214 transition to F-35 fighter planes in 2022, the U.S. Marine Corps said Monday.
Early next spring, the U.S. Marine Corps' VMA-311 squadron, known as the "Tomcats," and VMA-214, the "Black Sheep Squadron," will reactivate as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 311, operating the F-35C Lightning II at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., while VMFA-214 will fly the F-35B from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.
The ceremony, held last week at Yuma, marked the end of the use of AV-8B Harrier short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft by VMA-311, as well as the structure of the squadron, organized in 1942.
"The reputable Tomcats have an exceptional level of esprit de corps representing 78 years of superior performance," Sgt. Maj. Colin Barry of VMA-311 said in a press release.
VMA-214 will also sundown, and the new unit will fly F-35C fighter planes from the Miramar air station, with the F-35B short-takeoff-and-landing variant flown from Yuma.
Three other active fleet squadrons and one training squadron, all based in North Carolina, will continue flying the AV-8B Harrier, Marine Corps officials said.