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First operational F-35B squadron on track to meet deployment standards

IHS Jane's Defence Weekly // September 14, 2014

Pilots at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the US Marine Corps' (USMC's) first operational squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters began training in early September to the standards required for the jump-jet version of the aircraft's initial operational capability (IOC) declaration, according to the squadron's pilots and leaders.

"We shifted into IOC training last week," Lieutenant Colonel Steve Gillette, the squadron's commanding officer, told IHS Jane's on 12 September. He explained that the skills checklist the pilots are training to now features more specific and rigorous standards than it did when they first began flying the F-35 in 2012.

After taking over command of the squadron in 2013, Lieut. Col. Gillette began overseeing the move to the more detailed IOC-specific training and readiness standards. "The big difference between what we were doing then and what we're doing now is the rigidity of the standards we're holding people to in order to call a [training] event complete," he explained. Eight pilots in the squadron must master the entire training package in time for the planned July 2015 IOC declaration, he added.

Read the full story from IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.

Photo by Lockheed Martin.