A second Marine Corps fighter squadron based in Yuma, AZ, has phased out the venerable AV-8B Harrier jump jet for new F-35B Lighting II stealth jets.

The first squadron, VMFA-121, became operational in July . The second, VMFA- 211, last flew its Harriers on May 6. Yuma will ultimately host five F-35B squadrons, each with 16 aircraft.

The new Joint Strike Fighter, part of the most expensive military program in history, is being built in three variants for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, with the Marine version the first to be operational.

The Marine version can take off vertically from the Navy’s amphibious assault ships and fly at supersonic speeds above 1,200 miles per hour. It is designed to be nearly invisible to radar and other sensors.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.