F-35B on the USS Makin Island
A Marine Corps F-35B prepares to launch from the USS Makin Island. Photo by Sgt. Sarah Stegall

F-35B stealth jets from the San Diego-based USS Makin Island began long-range air strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve over the weekend, the Marine Corps announced Tuesday.

The amphibious assault ship and accompanying vessels and Marines in its ready group are in the Persian Gulf as part of the U.S. Central Command’s counterterrorism operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

“Long range F-35B Lightning II strike operations demonstrate the ARG/MEU’s ability to project air power well beyond the shore,” said Col. Christopher J. Bronzi, commanding officer of the Camp Pendleton-based 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

“We look forward to exercising the capabilities in our arsenal while in theater and remain ready to deliver those capabilities at any time if called upon,” he added.

The air operations also included missions by MV-22B Osprey tiltrotors from Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 at Pendleton.

The Makin Island ready group includes the amphibious transport dock ships USS Somerset and USS San Diego. Aboard the ships are 5,000 sailors and marines along with jets, helicopters and vehicles to support an amphibious landing.

“Conducting a long range strike mission with fifth generation F-35B fighters from amphibious assault ships demonstrates the versatility this platform brings to the joint force,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Kelly.

Chris Jennewein

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