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Making history, shaping future

3 May 2013 | Cpl. R.J. Driver Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Lockheed-Martin representatives accompanied a F-35B cockpit demonstrator aboard the Air Station, April 26 in order to familiarize community and Air Station personnel with the new aircraft scheduled to arrive in 2014.
To date, there has been 235 aircraft delivered, 22 of which are at Eglin Air Force Base with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, who falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 31.
Community leaders, elected officials and Air Station personnel were on hand to receive an update about the status of the F-35B and experience the most-advanced fighter jet first hand with a cockpit demonstrator.
Eric Van Kamp, Lockheed-Martin customer engagement director, made it clear that the, “F-35 is coming to Beaufort -- it’s not a myth.”
Additionally, Van Kamp discussed the successful vertical takeoff and landing test on an aircraft carrier, future testing and stealth capabilities.
Earlier that day, MAG-31 made history when VMFAT-501 had eight F-35Bs in the air for training at one time at Eglin.
Col. Michael Cederholm, MAG-31 commanding officer, said the sight was phenomenal and it’s a glimpse of what’s coming to Beaufort.
Local businesses can look forward to what’s coming to Beaufort as well.
Col. Brian Murtha, Air Station commanding officer, said in addition to the construction of the new hangars, airfield security upgrades have to be made and a simulated landing helicopter deck needs to be constructed for training just to name a few projects to support the new aircraft.
Looking to the future, Murtha expressed the importance of improving the education system to meet the technological requirements to be able to maintain aircraft here in the states.
“The F-35B reflects the modernization of our aviation capabilities to respond to tomorrow’s challenges and threats,” Murtha stated.
After Murtha made his remarks, the community had the opportunity to ask questions. Inquiries about the increase in noise and adjustments to the air installations compatible use zone, commonly known as AICUZ, arose.
Murtha concluded by expressing his excitement about the future of the Air Station and its relationship with the community.
The Air Station is scheduled to be ready to receive the F-35B January 2014.