The US Marine Corps (USMC) has announced that its 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) declared full operational capability (FOC) for the F-35C Lightning II.

This is the first FOC declaration for USMC, confirming that VMFA-314 is prepared and equipped to successfully deploy F-35C aboard US Navy aircraft carriers.

F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) is a stealthy, supersonic multirole fighter developed by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company for the US Air Force (USAF), US Navy, and USMC.

The JSF models are the F-35A, a conventional take-off and landing aircraft (CTOL), the F-35B, a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, and the F-35C, a carrier variant (CV).

The 3rd MAW commanding general major general Christopher Mahoney said: “VMFA-314 is the first F-35C squadron in the Marine Corps to declare FOC.

“They are now full up round and bring the incredible 5th generation capability to 3rd MAW. They will deploy as part of a Carrier Strike Group next year.

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“FOC for the Black knights is yet another step forward in achieving Force Design objectives. The Black Knights are ready. 3rd MAW is ready.”

The latest inaugural event was met after VMFA-314 received their first F-35C in January last year when their first jet arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar from Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore.

VMFA-314 operations officer major Derek Heinz said: “Many hours were spent maintaining aircraft, launching and recovering aircraft in Miramar, at other military facilities, and aboard the ship to conduct the training required to meet these goals.

“The marines of VMFA-314 have gained confidence in fighting this aircraft and feel confident we can do so in combat if called upon.”

VMFA-314 is currently preparing towards future deployments by conducting tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA). This marks the first F-35C squadron to conduct TSTA in the USMC.