F-35B stealth fighters head to Japan for first overseas mission
A squadron of F-35B Lightning II fighters is headed for Japan to begin the jet’s first overseas mission in the Pacific.
The stealth aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 departed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Monday bound for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, a Marines Corps statement said Tuesday.
“The transition of VMFA-121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft,” the statement said.
The jets had not arrived at Iwakuni as of Wednesday morning Japan time, said the base’s public affairs office, which did not provide information on when they would touch down.
Marines fly a “short take-off vertical landing” version of the plane, which is designed to replace F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler jets.
In November 2012, VMFA-121, which had flown F/A-18 Hornets, became the Marines’ first operational F-35 squadron. Since then, it has taken part in numerous drills in the U.S. and was declared combat-ready in July 2015, the statement said.
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