In a milestone for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, a Marine Corps F-35B flying from amphibious assault ship USS Essex carried out its first combat strike.
The strike took place on September 27 in the US Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan.
During this mission, the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander.
“The F-35B is a significant enhancement in theater amphibious and air warfighting capability, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy,” said Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander, US Naval Forces Central Command. “As part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, this platform supports operations on the ground from international waters, all while enabling maritime superiority that enhances stability and security.”
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the first combat-deployed MEU to replace the AV-8B Harrier with the F35B Lightning II. The F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 are currently embarked on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) as part of Essex Amphibious Ready Group.