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MAG-31 CO takes 5th Gen. fighter to the skies

By Cpl. Brendan Roethel | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | March 27, 2015

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After two months of training, Col. William R. Lieblein, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 31 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, performed his first flight in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, March 17.

Lieblein received training to fly the aircraft in order to get a first-hand account on the F-35B’s capabilities and effectiveness. This will allow him to utilize the aircraft as effectively and lethally as possible within the Marine Air Ground Task Force.

"The F-35B brings additional capabilities that the [F/A-18 Hornet] doesn’t, that if applied properly can bring the Marine Corps’ effectiveness in combat to new heights," Lieblein said.

The F-35B has unparalleled stealth capabilities, can vertically take off and land, provide pilots with a 360 degree view of battlefield information, communicate information to commanders in the air, on land, and sea, and more, Lieblein said.

The F-35 will provide the dominant, multi-role, fifth-generation capabilities needed across the full spectrum of combat operations to deter potential adversaries and enable future naval aviation power projection.


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