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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


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.