The US Marine Corps’ (USMC) Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, known as the ‘Green Knights’, has successfully conducted the first F-35B operational ordnance expenditures.
During the training, a total of 14 pilots used six F-35Bs to employ both inert and high-explosive munitions and also employed 18 guided bomb unit (GBU)-12s, and 12 GBU-32s.
VMFA-121 ordnance officer chief warrant officer 2 Matthew Beard said: "The training was hugely successful.
"We showed that we could employ the weapons that were supposed to be employed, and that we have sound weapon employment systems at this point."
Beard also said that the munitions employed by the pilots were the same as those dropped by legacy USMC fixed-wing aircraft.
However, the dimensions, installation, and technology that targets and employs them were different, he added.
As per the guidelines set by USMC Aviation deputy commandant lieutenant general Jon Davis, the F-35B fleet is required to demonstrate the ability to employ ordnance for the squadron to declare initial operating capability (IOC).
VMFA-121 operations officer and a pilot major Brendan Walsh said: "The ordnance employment was one of the last pieces the squadron needed for the IOC declaration.
"This training validated the simulated procedures pilots have been training for, and gave us confidence in the jet’s ability to perform with real weaponry."
Walsh also added that USMC Air Station Yuma-based squadron will continue to employ ordnance in the future.
Image: Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 ‘Green Knights’, conduct a maintenance check on an F-35B Lightning II. Photo: courtesy of Corporal. Raquel Barraza.