Fighter pilot from the Marine Corps' first F-35C squadron says the stealth jet is making US aircraft carriers more lethal
"The jet brings a lot of capability to the Marine Corps and to the Navy," Maj. Mark Dion told Insider.
Science & Tech
US Navy aircraft carriers have started deploying with F-35C stealth fighter jets, aircraft that one fighter pilot called "a game changer" and said are making US carriers even more lethal.
The first US Navy aircraft carrier to deploy with F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the variant engineered for carrier operations, was USS Carl Vinson, which departed San Diego last month and sailed through the South China Sea recently with the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, the Navy's first F-35C squadron, on board.
The Marines are in the game as well. The "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, the Corps' first F-35C squadron, achieved full operational capability in July and are now preparing for their first carrier deployment.
This squadron is working long hours training as part of Carrier Air Wing 9 aboard USS Abraham Lincoln and at Naval Air Station Fallon, home of TOPGUN, the Navy's elite air combat school, to get ready for the deployment expected to start early next year.
The F-35, the most expensive weapon program in US military history, has had its share of setbacks in development. But pilots are still excited about what the aircraft can do, one of the "Black Knights" told Insider.