Marine Corps forms new fighter jet squadron

The Marine Corps is forming the first squadron of pilots to fly the next-generation strike fighter jet, months after lawmakers raised concern that there was a rush to end the testing of the aircraft that has had technical problems.
Associated Press
Nov 21, 2012

So far, two veteran pilots of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing have been trained to fly the F-35B. They are becoming the first members of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 that will debut Tuesday at a ceremony at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz.

The first F-35B arrived Friday, and 15 more are coming during the next year. The Defense Department has pumped a half a billion dollars into upgrading the facilities, hangars and runways at the base to make way for the supersonic fighter jet named Lightning II, officials said.

The squadron's pilots are expected to fly the aircraft by year's end.

The Marines are the first in the military taking the steps toward putting the planes in operation. The F-35B would replace Cold War-era aircraft such as the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier.

"It's a pretty big milestone that a lot of people are looking at and judging," said Marine Capt. Staci Reidinger, a spokeswoman at the Yuma base. "The lessons learned will be shared."

(Click the photo to see the jet fighter picture in full.)

Tuesday's inauguration comes only months after leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta rushed a decision to develop the Marine Corps version of the fighter jet.

In a letter sent in February to the Pentagon chief, Sens. Carl Levin, the committee chairman, and John McCain, the panel's top Republican, questioned whether the F-35B had met the criteria to warrant an end to its probation. The F-35B had been on a two-year probation because of "significant testing problems."

Levin, D-Mich., and McCain, R-Ariz., wrote that the program "has enjoyed some success over the last few months, after several years of having fallen short." But they said "more problems with the F-35B's structure and propulsion, potentially as serious as those that were originally identified a year ago, have been found. This is salient where the F-35B has completed only 20 percent of its developmental test plan to date. Your decision, therefore, appears at least premature."

Levin declined to comment on the squadron. McCain did not respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.

The developer of the aircraft, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., is building three versions of the F-35 — one each for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and some foreign forces.

Schedule delays and cost overruns have dogged the F-35's development, making it the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program ever. Ten years in, the total F-35 program cost has jumped from $233 billion to an estimated $385 billion. Recent estimates suggest the entire program could exceed $1 trillion over 50 years.

Aviation safety consultant and retired Marine Corps Col. Pete Field, who served as the former director of the Naval Test Pilot School, said the Marine Corps' F-35B is the most complicated of the three versions because it can take off and land vertically in less than 500 feet of space, allowing it to be launched from small Navy ships and to drop down in confined areas.

One of the problems earlier on in its development was it was heavier than predicted, which would have compromised its unique ability to take off and land vertically, Field said.

It was lightened substantially, but Field said that could also mean structural problems in the long run.

"It remains to be seen if the F-35B has a long life and is structurally sound," said Field, who was the chief test pilot for the F/A-18. "We won't know for two to three years after it's been in operation. If nothing crops up, perhaps the engineers have done their best work."

Its sophisticated stealth capabilities mean that like the Air Force's F-22, the aircraft can fly into enemy territory without being detected by radar.

"All we can do is hope that they have solved all the program problems and that they've got a pretty good airplane," Field said.

Officials at Lockheed Martin Corp. say they have corrected the problems with the aircraft's structure and propulsion in the development phase. The fixes addressed cracking in the interior bulkhead and the inadequate fitting of doors atop the plane that open to allow extra air to reach the engines, among other issues.

There were no accidents or close calls by pilots testing the F-35B, said company spokesman Jack Giese.

The commanding officer of the new squadron, Lt. Col. Jeffrey B. Scott, said the F-35B will give the nation a "giant leap" in its strategic capabilities by being able to drop in quickly to remote trouble spots without the need of having to be launched from a big deck Navy ship. Since the F-35 variants share similarities, the aircraft also will unify the military's air power.

"It flies extremely well. It's got a lot of great capabilities and it is growing into those capabilities," he said, adding later: "If you look at the history of any aircraft during development, this has had no more problems than any other previous aircraft, and we have the engineering solutions."

 

Comments

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Yes!! Yes!! I listened and I have been Saved!!! It's a miracle. Oh thank you, thank you!!!

I believe in the bloody salvation brought to us by the god-man result of his Father's spiritual rape!!!!

http://bible.cc/luke/1-34.htm

I notice that the guy is grubbing for money - typical shyster.

shucks

Wow!How did you figure that out?

It's amazing how you lash out at everything.

Contango

Where in the Bible does it say that Mary was willing?

It's amazing that you are not capable of objective and empirical thought.

See: Iconoclast

shucks

?

Contango

It's a fairly simple question:

If Jesus wasn't the result of a rape, where is it written in the Bible that his Earthly mother was willing to be impregnated by his heavenly Father?

Luke validates my premise.

shucks

Does Mary sound unwilling or unhappy? The word rape doesn't really fit, does it?

http://www.biblegateway.com/pass...

http://www.biblegateway.com/pass...

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Reads more like a fait accompli.

Besides, you wouldn't wanna disappoint God would you?

Heck, and then he even killed his own son.

With Isaac and Jacob, didn't God do away with human sacrifice?

shucks

I would like to know what religion/system of belief/system of thought you were born into?

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Cradle Catholic, plus twelve yrs. of formal Notre Dame indoctrination in elementary and secondary school.

Over the yrs. I've studied comparative religions, various denominations and cults and read most of their texts.

So with Isaac, didn't God reject human sacrifice?

Face it: Christianity is a mishmash of Greco-Roman mythology and Semitic beliefs.

shucks

I was a 'cradle' Catholic too. 8 years of Catholic elementary school and an altar boy.

I ,like you, have studied comparative religions, various denominations and cults .

Is Notre Dame a Catholic college?

Contango

Nuns and priests who were of the order of Notre Dame.

I enjoyed the education, the religion in retrospect I coulda done without.

shucks

Ok, Catholic elementry and high school.
Yeah, Mass six days a week for starters.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Yes, as I wrote: Elementary and secondary school.

You're not a college graduate are you?

shucks

No ,I am not.

shucks

Are you?

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

It doesn't show?

BGSU, BA: Political Science major, History minor. Think of it as a liberal arts education.

shucks

You do sound intelligent--I didn't see religion in that line- up.

shucks

@ con

Did you admire Joseph Campbell?

I'm not trying to dodge your questions,quote:

So with Isaac, didn't God reject human sacrifice?

Face it: Christianity is a mishmash of Greco-Roman mythology and Semitic beliefs.
-------------------------------------------------------------
but your Catholic teaching and your history education should have answered your questions.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

But you are nevertheless "dodging my questions." I'm not surprised.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

- Hamlet (1.5.166-7)

shucks

@ contango

Since this is your conclusion/premise :
"Face it: Christianity is a mishmash of Greco-Roman mythology and Semitic beliefs."
Why should I bother?

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

You shouldn't. But you won't consider the non-Biblical historical evidence concerning it's origins.

Except for quoting the Bible, you can "prove" nothing. And you won't question it - dogma.

H*ll, outside the Bible, there's no proof that Jesus the man-god even existed.

Paul never even met him, but instead "channeled" him.

Glad for you that you've got the workings of the entire universe all figured out in a nice, neat comfortable package.

shucks

@ con

You are making me believe in Calvinism.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

"Make you"? Reads co-dependent.

Good thing that Luther questioned huh?

I'll just keep asking the questions and you can just keep "dodging." OK?

Don't think for yourself, just continue to run to your Bible or the Moody Bible Inst. for the "answers."

shucks

Your study in faith and spirituality has come up bankrupt.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

History for one is splattered with religion.

Also, a liberal arts education requires taking electives like philosophy, etc.

Besides, it's what you learn after graduation that's important. College just helps to give ya the tools to learn and ask questions.

I may have read some Campbell, but I did see the PBS series decades ago.

About the last person I read was the "anti-guru," U.G. Krishnamurti.

shucks

Amazing

Randy_Marsh

Can i hear a h#ll yeah for Zoroastrianism!!!

shucks

@marsh
Do you feel comfortable to talk religion now?

Randy_Marsh

@4Shizzle
No I Dont, I figured I would give you both a reason to lighten up and dismiss the religion talk before it got heated and hurtful things were said that were irreparable. Its my way of throwing a little humor in the middle so you guys can walk away with a laugh.

luvblues2

They had better watch their words very closely, before Second Opinion comes in here and smacks the both of them upside the head with one of those real big thick Bibles with leather binding....LOL

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