Marines Make Progress with F-35B During OT-1
Marines and sailors have worked together since May 18 to conduct
Operational Testing 1, the assessment of the integration of the F-35B
Lightning II, at sea, aboard USS Wasp (LHD-1).
Throughout OT-1, the aircraft and personnel involved have been
challenged with a wide variety of flight and deck operations, allowing
the gathering of data which will lay the groundwork for future F-35B
deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers.
“This operational test period that we are conducting is going to be a direct representative of fleet Marine Corps operating forces,” said Col. Robert Rauenhorst, the commanding officer of Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22. “We are taking a look at how the F-35 program is developing, as well as ship modifications that have been worked through Naval Sea Systems Command, as well the F-35 Joint Program Office.”
OT-1 offered many first experiences for both personnel and the F-35B itself. One of these firsts was operational Marine Corps pilots landing the aircraft on a carrier at night.
“This is the first time we are doing this on a ship with six aircraft instead of two, and the standard Marine Corps footprint of roughly 150 Marines to work on the aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Michael Dehner, the F-35 Operational Test Director with the Department of the Navy, and the Deputy Combined Test Director with the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team. “We are at that transition step before anyone will be able to use the F-35B as a warfighting platform.”
Not only is the F-35B the most versatile and technologically advanced aircraft in the skies today, it will also be replacing three legacy Marine Corps platforms; the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet, and the EA-6B Prowler.