F-35C prepares to launch
A F-35C prepares to launch from the USS Abraham Lincoln. Marine Corps photo

When the USS Abraham Lincoln deployed from North Island on Monday, its air wing included the Marine Corps F-35C stealth jets for the first time.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 from Miramar is aboard with the Navy version of the Lightning II, the latest “5th generation” fighter in the American arsenal.

“The Black Knight’s deployment of F-35C Lightning II aboard USS Abraham Lincoln is the newest chapter in the Marine Corps’ long history of naval integration,” said Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

The Navy version of the Joint Strike Fighter is specifically designed to operate from carriers, with longer wings and greater fuel capacity than the Air Force’s F-35A and the F-35B short-takeoff variant that is also flown by the Marines.

The jet’s long-range capability was demonstrated during Exercise Summer Fury 21 when an F-35C flew from Miramar to Washington state and attacked a target with precision munitions.

“Our ability to operate the F-35C in the Pacific greatly increases the Marine Corps’ naval expeditionary force capabilities by providing us the capacity to employ the most advanced electronic warfare capabilities on any aircraft today in support of fleet operations,” said Lt. Col. Brendan M. Walsh, commanding officer of the Miramar squadron aboard the carrier.

“In addition, having this asset available greatly increases the Marine Corps’ ability to provide security to our allied nations and preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.

The F-35 family, which is sometimes described as a flying computer, will ultimately replace the Marines’ legacy F/A-18 and Harrier jets.

Chris Jennewein

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