A squadron of the U.S. Navy's newest fighters is aircraft carrier-qualified and ready to deploy, the Navy said Thursday. The announcement is a milestone for the Pentagon's trillion-dollar F-35 Joint Strike Fighter weapons program.
The Joint Strike Fighter comes in three variants: the Air Force's "A," the Marine Corps' short takeoff and vertical landing "B" and the carrier-capable "C," which both the Marines and the Navy will operate.
"We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our Carrier Strike Groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force," said Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller, the commander of Naval Air Forces, in a statement.
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, based in Lemoore, California, completed its carrier qualifications on board the then San Diego-based carrier Carl Vinson, said Lt. Travis Callahan, a Naval Air Forces spokesman.
However, carrier qualification is just one aspect of being declared "mission ready." The squadron also had to have 10 operational aircraft and the necessary support equipment, including tools, training manuals and spare parts.
A U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II, attached to Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing, the 'Argonauts' of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, completes a flight over Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Feb. 1, 2019.
(U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)
On Thursday, the Navy announced the squadron, the VFA 147 "Argonauts," had achieved "Initial Operational Capability," meaning it can join a carrier air wing.
A Marine squadron of F-35Bs recently completed its first combat deployment on board the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Essex.
The Navy did not say when its F-35s would begin their first carrier air wing deployment.
"We will continue to learn and improve ways to maintain and sustain F-35C as we prepare for first deployment," said Navy Capt. Max McCoy, the commodore of the Navy's Joint Strike Fighter Wing. "The addition of F-35C to existing Carrier Air Wing capability ensures that we can fight and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future."
The F-35 represents an advance in technology due to its advanced sensor and computer package. Marine Captain Nathaniel Keegan, an F-35B pilot, told the Union-Tribune during September's Miramar Air Show that the technology on the aircraft allowed the pilot to function as a sort of battlefield quarterback.
"It's a really great aircraft in terms of what we can do with it, what it brings to the table and flying it," he said. "It's a great airplane to fly."
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.