Marine Grunts Will Train With F-35 Ahead of First Deployment // October 11, 2016

Senior Marine Corps leaders hope the entry of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter into the fleet will change not just the way Marines fly, but the way the force fights as a whole.

And they're planning to test out ways the fifth-generation jet can transform the force by pairing it with an unlikely partner: ground-pounders from the Corps' experimental infantry battalion.

The unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, California, will team up with Yuma-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 for a variety of training evolutions before the units deploy together to the Pacific with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit next year.

These smaller-scale training efforts will give Marines insight into how the aircraft can improve ground combat operations, Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told in a recent interview.

"We'll get them together now and start operating together, and start to wring out ideas about how you can use the F-35 differently," he said.

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