US Marine Corps’ F-35B Is About To Carry Out Its First Combat Mission

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US Marine Corps' F-35B Is About To Carry Out Its First Combat Mission

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft completes Envelope Expansion Testing during a Short Take-off Vertical Landing aboard USS America, Oct. 30, 2016. US Marine Corps Photo

The US Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning fighter jet could possibly fly its first combat mission within days, according to several unnamed US defense officials, cited by CNN on September 26th.

The 5th generation fighter jets are currently aboard the amphibious assault ship the USS Essex and should be in position to conduct airstrikes over Afghanistan shortly, according to the unnamed sources.

According to one of the unnamed officials, the USS Essex has already sailed from the Gulf of Aden into the North Arabian Sea and is expected to move into the Persian Gulf in the following days.

As reported by CNN, F-35 pilots have also been conducting intelligence and surveillance missions over Somalia while they’re on standby to provide air support to US troops on the ground in the region. Despite being available for support, the advanced fighter jet was not used in an airstrike over Somalia on Saturday that killed 18 militants after US and local forces came under attack.

In May 2018, Israel Defense Forces said they were using their version of the F-35 in operational missions, striking at least two unspecified targets in the region. The Israeli announcement marked the first time the F-35 had been used in an actual combat situation. It was of significance due to the numerous issues and delays development of the fighter jet has been faced with.

The F-35 fighter jet is dubbed by the US as the future of military aviation. It is “a lethal and versatile aircraft that combines stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology,” according to Lockheed Martin, the plane’s primary contractor.

The F-35B is one of three variations of the F-35 fighter jet, it has the ability for vertical landing, similarly to a helicopter. It also take off from a much shorter space than other fighter jets, that is why it can operate on the Essex, a warship only half the size of the 100,000-ton aircraft carriers in the US fleet, as reported by CNN.

The aircraft, which is the most expensive weapons system in history, has also drawn sharp criticism in recent years after facing a long list of setbacks — including problems with software, engines and weapon systems. And critics have continued to express skepticism about the F-35’s combat capability despite reassurances by US military leaders who say the issues are being worked out.

The US Marine Corps declared its first squadron of F-35s ready for deployment in July 2015. The Air Force said its version of the aircraft was combat ready in August 2016.

According to a recent investigative report by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), 19 issues that could threaten a pilots life and the jet’s operation were downgraded so that the F-35 could go past the development phase. These issues were downgraded without an apparent fix even being in the works.

US President Donald Trump is quite proud of the F-35 fighter jet, calling it “invisible” on numerous occasions. The jet is, of course, not actually invisible, it just has stealth capabilities and is barely detectable by enemy radars.

The South China Morning Post, on September 5th, cited anonymous military sources which claimed that China’s own stealth fighter jet the J-20 is nearing mass production. The jet had engine problems, which have reportedly been fixed.

According to a report on August 30th, by the South China Morning Post, the J-20 stealth fighter jet carried out its first sea training mission. The PLA air force announced on August 29th that the training had taken place, without specifying where or when. The drill was conducted over the sea in “actual war conditions” to “further upgrade the air force’s combat capabilities,” Senior Colonel Shen Jinke said on the official air force microblog. “It will enable the [PLA air force] to better defend national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” he said.

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  • Promitheas Apollonious

    they can actually fly? NO shit.

    • Albert Pike

      Yes – but can they land every time?

      • Promitheas Apollonious

        excellent question. Can they?

        • Albert Pike

          Probably sometimes they can…

          • Promitheas Apollonious

            http://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/feature/5/179243/navair-projects-f_35-to-need-50-maintenance-hours-per-flight-hour.html

            our years into their operational career, F-35 fighters are expected to require between 41.75 and 50.1 maintenance man-hours (MMH) per flight hours, or about three times as many as most fighter aircraft currently operated by Western air forces.

            This extremely high MMH to flight hour ratio is extrapolated from a Dec.01 solicitation filed by the US Naval Air Systems Command, and which states that the world-wide in-service fleet of F-35s will require 17 million man-hours of maintenance and sustainment in FY 2018 and FY 2019.

          • Albert Pike

            So 50 people have to work on that plane for 1 hour to keep it 1 hour in the air. That’s gone be a lot of people jumping around it in the hangar. They must watch their feet… ;-)

          • Promitheas Apollonious

            50 man hours do not translate to 50 people and one hour work of each. every time an f35 fly with out any problems then it needs 3 days almost to fly again that is if is base on the ground, from an aircraft it gets more time consuming.

            Beside the fact that all they can do is drop couple of bombs and that is it. They are worthless in ground support, worthless as fighters one to one, and basically can do nothing an f16 does or other older planes, beside been super expensive to maintain and dangerous for the pilots to fly them.

            But the worst part is after they make a sortie they have to be grounded for couple of days or at best a day. So imagine a fleet of planes that can hit you today for example is not able to support troops on the ground and is only protection is that is allegedly stealth as long it remains dry, which is a myth and absolutely not true.

          • Sinbad2

            The sortie rates of the Russian planes in Syria totally blew the Pentagon away.
            The American planes are always in maintenance, and the Russian planes are always flying.

          • Concrete Mike

            Yes the sortie rates of russian planes was incredible.

            It goes to show how good russian engineers are at developping specifications for their aircraft. Mainly durability and ease of service. Many of these planes are designed for rough airfieds too. Have you looked at su25 landing gear #beefy

  • Barba_Papa

    Dropping simple bombs on Taliban jihadis who have no air defenses whatsoever is hardly a combat mission. It’s also insane overkill, like using a Ferrari to go to the nearest supermarket. An old F-4 or A-4 could have done this job. And probably carried more ordnance too. Good job, USMC, proving to us that the F-35B was worth it with this first ‘combat’ mission.

    • But this one dropped bomb is INCREDIBLY SMART one :D :D :D

    • occupybacon

      They have to start somewhere, right? What would please you, to start a war with a great military power just to test the plane?

      • Barba_Papa

        You are 100% right in that. Better that they do this instead. Still, announcing to the whole world that they’re going to do combat operations while they’re only playing taxi to drop dumb iron bombs on air defense less Jihadis is hardly the great test for the F-35 that it implies.

        • occupybacon

          It’s like “hey everyone, it’s flying already! buy it while it’s hot!”

  • Tudor Miron

    “a lethal and versatile aircraft that combines stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology,” (с) Extreme agility? Now this are hot news! Extreme agility comparing to what, Henry Kissinger?

    • F22 was outmaneuvred by SU35. So F35 is “extreme agile” compared to Wright’s “Flyer 1” probably. And BTW. Flyer 1 was UNSTABLE aerodynamic design as F35 :D

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      NOPE……….. Donald trump when he go to the toilet. It is called the duck movement.

      • Garga

        Disturbing mental image ahead, reader discretion advised:

        How he manages to wipe that enormous butt with those tiny little hands?

        • FlorianGeyer

          Henry V111 of England had a ‘Groom of the Stool’ to wipe his arse Garga :)
          Perhaps Trump has the same ?

          https://www.historyextra.com/period/who-was-the-last-groom-of-the-stool/

        • Concrete Mike

          Bwahahahaha may i suggest a.mop

        • Marko

          In the US , we choose our Presidents according to who has the fattest ass. Bernie Sanders didn’t have a chance against Hillary , and she was similarly outclassed by Trump.

          The theory is that by choosing the fattest ass you get the biggest asshole. It seems to be working out that way.

    • Garga

      I don’t know about Kissinger’s agility but based on Israeli news, F-35 is less agile than a stork.

  • Can F35 actually fly missions in normal weather or they must avoid rain, cold, hot, wind, sunshine, darkness and most important – BIRDSTRIKES ? :D
    How about protection at least against small arms if it is a ground support capable aircraft ? :D :D
    And what about fire protection ?
    We saw it burning like torch just after a bit harder landing :D :D :D

    • Promitheas Apollonious

      it is not a ground support able so nothing to worry on that part, as pilots they may not have a choice try to follow orders but I believe they are also not suicidal.

      • Sinbad2

        40 to 50 hours of maintenance per flight hour.

  • Nosferatu

    F35 is a 3rd genereation aircraft with facebook capabilities. Its speed, manuevrability and range is no better than that of a MIG21 but it can connect to stuff……. LOL

    • Sinbad2

      “facebook capabilities”
      LOL

  • Ger

    Shooting Asian Peasants on the ground seems like a safe place for this flying gold vault. What do you call a plane that is slow, can not be maneuvered by the pilot (Literally flies itself. The pilot is there to get his neck broke when bailing out) and looks like a water melon on advanced detection systems ……?

  • wwinsti

    So, the most expensive stealth aircraft in the world is required to bypass Taliban air defenses!?!

    Look out Iran, the US is trying to pull a fast one.

  • Tommy Jensen

    No other airfighter in the world have Envelope Expansion. Developed by the United States, a world class plane, a light on the hill, and the Envelope Expansion Testing passed.

    The F-35b is ready for new adventures to protect America´s security and our freedom.

    • Sinbad2

      “Envelope Expansion”
      Is that where you try to stuff too much stuff in an envelope to save a shekel on postage?

  • Sinbad2

    Wow what a saga.
    The project to build the JSF started in 1992, by 2000 they had a prototype flying and the first F35 light was in 2006. And now in 2018 they are ready to be used, a quarter of a century to build a plane. The ancient Egyptians built pyramids quicker than that.

  • Bob

    The aircraft hasn’t been able to perform in accordance with numerous original brief requirements – so these requirements are simply being downgraded, or the time-frames for achievement repeatedly postponed.