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The Navy's first carrier-based F-35 fighters are finally ready for a fight
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."
©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.