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VMFAT-501 completes OT-1 on ship

By Lance Cpl. Jonah V. Lovy | 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing | June 5, 2015


Marine Fighter Attack Training Squad­ron 501 completed the first operational test, known as OT-1, of the F-35B Light­ning II, May 29. Jets from VMFAT-501 spent 11 days onboard the USS Wasp in the Atlantic Ocean.

The purpose of the operation was to demonstrate the capability of the F-35B to deploy onboard an amphibious ship, said Maj. Paul Holst, a pilot with VM­FAT-501.

Marines and sailors have been work­ing together to assess the integration of the F-35B, which is scheduled to replace all Marine tactical jet aircraft. When the testing period concluded, May 29, U.S. Marine F-35B pilots had flown 110 sor­ties from USS Wasp, racking up more than 85 flight hours.

“We learned some things of course,” said Holst. “We validated all the assumptions we had made previously, but overall the training system we developed and the airplane both performed remarkably well on the boat.”

Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 plans to use this operational test to im­prove their pilot’s training and overall mis­sion readiness.

“As we train new pilots, we can incorporate what we learned on this operation into the training,” said Holst.

Data and lessons learned will lay the groundwork for future F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious ships.

These operations are one of many steps in the transition from the Corps’ aging legacy tactical fleet to the F-35, which 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.