The Marine Corps’ new F-35B fighter practiced takeoffs and landings Thursday at Camp Pendleton’s expeditionary landing pad at Red Beach.
“We’ve done similar landings in [Yuma], but the one at Red Beach was the smallest vertical landing pad we have used to date,” said Maj. Colin Newbold, flight operations officer with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.
The new Lightning II fighters can take off and land vertically from ships and short, remote runways. They are part of a $1 trillion program providing a new generation of similar supersonic, stealth aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The Marine version is the first to be operational.
The training came as part of Exercise Steel Knight, a combined arms live-fire exercise that also utilized the expeditionary airfield Twentynine Palms. The exercise tested the F-35’s ability to operate in an austere environment.
“This is the first time that we get to truly test the capabilities of the aircraft in an expeditionary setting,” said Newbold.
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