MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
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
“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.