F-35C Lightning II delivered to US Marine Corps
The F-35C Lightning II carrier variant has been delivered to the US Marine Corps (USMC) from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
This aircraft is the first of five USMC F-35Cs that will be delivered to VFA-101 on Eglin Air Force base for training to support carrier-based operations.
US Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander and F-35 pilot lieutenant colonel J.T. Ryan said: "This is a big day for the Marine Corps' tactical air community and a huge honour to be able to deliver our first F-35C.
"It marks the beginning of our training in the carrier variant and puts us that much closer to standing up our first F-35C operational fleet squadron.
"Now, marine pilots will be flying the F-35C with the navy's carrier air wings while deployed aboard aircraft carriers."
Designed to offer 25% more range and a larger weapons bay, the aircraft allows the USMC to fly aboard navy aircraft carriers.
The F-35C model aircraft is set to undergo two more sea-based assessments prior to initial combat deployment in 2018.
The first operational USMC F-35C fleet squadron VMFA-115 will be completed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, in 2019.
Powered by the Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine, the multirole F-35C uses its electro-optical targeting system for long-range detection and precision targeting.
Image: The first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant for the USMC. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.