This declaration enables the VMFA-314 to deploy the F-35C onto aircraft carriers to support combat operations around the world, according to the Navy.
"The F-35 is an expeditionary platform that extends the reach of our Marines and machines, and increases our ability to support joint and allied partners at a moment's notice," said Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, 3rd MAW commanding general.
"By effectively employing the F-35, MAGTF [Marine Air-Ground Task Force] commanders have the potential to dominate our adversaries in a joint battlespace, in the air and out at sea," Mahoney said.
The Navy declared initial operational capability with its fleet of F-35C in February 2019, joining the Marines and the Air Force in declaring their variants of the aircraft -- the F-35A and F-35B -- mission ready and capable.
To receive the qualification at the squadron level, the unit must meet the Headquarters Marine Corps standards, which define the minimum number of trained Marines, pilots and mission-ready aircraft a squadron needs to become complete.
"VMFA-314's declaration of IOC is a significant milestone not only for 3rd MAW but also the Marine Corps," Lt. Col. Duncan French, VMFA-314 executive officer.
"VMFA-314 is the first F-35C squadron in the Marine Corps. The F-35C's unique capabilities, compared to the F-35B and legacy aircraft, provide the Marine Corps with a complementary increase in combat projection and the ability to operate from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers," French said.
The F-35 is considered the most advanced stealth fighter jet ever developed. It may also be the most expensive: a report released last year by the Department of Defense said the F-35 was the primary driver of a 4 percent increase in the Pentagon's budget.