A second permanently stationed F-35B Squadron has been established by the Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12) in Japan.

The Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 has been redesignated as the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242.

This is part of the current transition process of the US Marine Corps (USMC) to the fifth-generation F-35B Lightning II from the legacy F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.

F-35 is said to be the future of the Marine Corps tactical aviation and will replace the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet, and the EA-6B Prowler across the USMC.

In January 2017, the first forward-stationed F-35B squadron was transferred from the US to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.

This is in line with the agreements signed between the US and the Government of Japan.

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The MAG-12 is currently the only unit overseas that has two permanently stationed F-35B squadrons.

Okinawa-based 1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general brigadier general Chris McPhillips said: “The increased capability of F-35B along with our other fifth generation capabilities in III MEF enable us to support fleet marines, joint and allied partners on a moment’s notice.

“F-35B gives us the ability to dominate air and sea space and persist wherever we are without rival. It is an expeditionary platform that literally holds doors open for the Fleet Marine and Joint Force.

“F-35B basing in Japan is not by accident, it has occurred here more rapidly than in other parts of world, which is a testament to our commitment to Japan and the region.”

In 2018, the USMC Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 carried out the first flight operations in an F-35B Lightning II aircraft.