Marine Corps Deploy F-35B to Japan

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An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, lands at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017. Photo: U.S. Marine Corps, by Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego

The first F-35B Lightning II aircraft, belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VFMA-121), arrived today at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni today (January 18, 2017) beginning the squadron’s permanent basing at the air station. VMFA-121 conducted a permanent change of station to MCAS Iwakuni, from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., and now belongs to Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force positioned at this base.

“The arrival of the F-35B embodies our commitment to the defense of Japan and the regional-security of the Pacific,” said Maj. Gen. Russell Sanborn, the Commanding General of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “We are bringing the most advanced technology to the Pacific to respond to the wide range of missions we take part in and provide greater support to our regional allies.”

The F-35B represents the future of Marine Corps tactical aviation and incorporates the mission capabilities of the current Marine Corps platforms it is replacing—the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet, and EA-6B Prowler—within a single airframe. In addition to its short takeoff and vertical landing capability, the F-35B’s unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar, sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems bring all of the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter, a modern bomber, and an adverse-weather, all-threat environment air support platform.

Prior to arriving in Iwakuni, VMFA-121 was stationed with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Yuma, Arizona. During the squadron’s time in Arizona, the aircraft successfully
participated in numerous exercises and training events. “Our training in the U.S. has prepared us well for our mission here in Japan and we are very honored to have such a warm welcome,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. J. T. Bardo, commanding officer of VMFA-121. “Our Marines and family members take great pride in being able to serve here and be part of the amazing community in Iwakuni, both on and around the air station.”

The F-35B that arrived in Japan today brings strategic agility, operational flexibility and tactical supremacy to III MEF with a mission radius greater than that of the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II in support of the U.S. – Japan alliance. Photo: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Donato Maffin