Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 declare their full operational capability (FOC) for the F-35C Lightning II
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 declare their full operational capability (FOC) for the F-35C Lightning II

First US Marine Corps Fighter Squadron Declares Full Operational Capability for F-35C Lightning II

As the Marine Corps continues to make changes to meet the demands of the rapidly evolving future operating environment, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 has reached a new milestone in Marine Corps history as they declare their full operational capability (FOC) for the F-35C Lightning II. FOC is significant in its confirmation that VMFA-314 is fully prepared and equipped successfully deploy aboard United States Navy aircraft carriers, marking the first FOC declaration for Marine Corps. This inaugural event is met after VMFA-314 received their first F-35C on January 21, 2020 when their first jet arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar from Naval Air Station Lemoore.

“Many hours were spent maintaining aircraft, launching and recovering aircraft in Miramar, at other military facilities, and aboard the ship to conduct the training required to meet these goals,” said Major Derek Heinz, VMFA-314 operations officer. “The Marines of VMFA-314 have gained confidence in fighting this aircraft and feel confident we can do so in combat if called upon.”

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“VMFA-314 is the first F-35C squadron in the Marine Corps to declare FOC. They are now full up round and bring the incredible 5th generation capability to 3rd MAW. They will deploy as part of a Carrier Strike Group next year.” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, 3rd MAW commanding general. “FOC for the Black knights is yet another step forward in achieving Force Design objectives. The Black Knights are ready- 3rd MAW is ready.”

First US Marine Corps Fighter Squadron Declares Full Operational Capability for F-35C Lightning II
U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct a new expeditionary landing demonstration with M-31 arresting gear Interim Flight Clearance (IFC), on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 3rd, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cervantes, Leilani)

VMFA-314 is currently continuing its preparations towards future deployments by conducting tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA), marking the first F-35C squadron to conduct TSTA in the Marine Corps. This training will consist of communication rehearsals, medical drills, flight operations, and shipboard drills conducted while underway, ensuring the squadron is prepared to deploy in support of maritime campaigns. 3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth multirole combat aircraft was designed with three initial variants – the F-35A, a CTOL land-based version; the F-35B, a STOVL version capable of use either on land or on aircraft carriers; and the F-35C, a CATOBAR carrier-based version. Compared to the F-35A, the F-35C features larger wings with foldable wingtip sections, larger control surfaces for improved low-speed control, stronger landing gear for the stresses of carrier arrested landings, a twin-wheel nose gear, and a stronger tailhook for use with carrier arrestor cables. The larger wing area allows for decreased landing speed while increasing both range and payload.

First US Marine Corps Fighter Squadron Declares Full Operational Capability for F-35C Lightning II
This new capability allows the F-35C Lightning II to land on smaller runways anywhere in the world and ensures extended flexibility in combat operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cervantes, Leilani)
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