Omantribune
Oman Tribune
Omantribune
Omantribune Search News
Web Oman
    Google Search Button
      Tribune
- Oman
- Soccer World Cup
- Other Top Stories
- Middle East
- Business
- Sports
- India
- Pakistan
- Asia
- Europe
- Americas
- Columnists
- Editorial
- Oman Mirror
- Special Features
- Cinema
- PDF Pages
- Weather
- Travel
- Currency Rate
- Hospitals
- Pharmacies
- Services
- Flight Timings
- Museum Timings
Omantribune Home Omantribune About Us Omantribune Advertising Information Omantribune Archives Omantribune Subscribe-Form Omantribune Jobs Omantribune Contact Us
Wednesday, October 22, 2014  

US Marines unveil first F-35 fighter squad
YUMA (Arizona) The US Marine Corps late on Tuesday established its first operational squadron of F-35 fighter jets at an air station in Yuma, Arizona, a move that officials said showed progress on the Pentagon’s biggest and most scrutinised weapons programme.

Three F-35B fighters built by Lockheed Martin Corp have already arrived at the base, with 13 more to come over the next year. The service has also spent about half a billion dollars to build new hangars for the planes, a high-end flight simulator for training pilots, and maintenance facilities, according to Captain Staci Reidinger, a spokeswoman for the base.

The new squadron, which is slated to start initial flights later this year or early next, was formally unveiled at a ceremony at the Arizona air base that included top Pentagon and Lockheed executives, as well as Senator John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It marked good news for the radar-evading Lockheed fighter programme, which has been restructured three times in recent years to save money and allow more time to work out technical kinks.

Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos said it was a historic day for the smallest of the US military services, which urgently needs to replace its aging fleet of older model F/A-18 fighters built by Boeing Co, and AV-8B Harrier jets, which are growing expensive to maintain.

“This squadron will be the first, not only in the Marine Corps or the United States, but the first in the world to bring a fifth-generation, multi-role, (short takeoff vertical landing) stealth fighter ... into an operational status,” he said in a speech at the base.

Amos, who flew the F-4 Phantom fighters that were used extensively during the Vietnam war, said the new plane had “eye-watering” capabilities, although he said he could not discuss most of them since they are classified.

He said establishment of the squadron at the Yuma air base, coupled with testing and training going on elsewhere, showed “tangible progress” on the F-35B model, which can take off from shorter runways and land vertically like a Harrier jump jet.

Just two years ago, the Pentagon had threatened to cancel the F-35B programme unless it made significant technical progress.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma will eventually have five operational squadrons of the B-model of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed is developing three variants of the fighter for the US military and eight international partners — Britain, Italy, Norway, Australia, Canada, Turkey, the Netherlands and Denmark.

Defense consultant Robbin Laird said the F-35 would be a key asset in the Pentagon’s increased focus on Asia since its ability to operate with other allies such as Australia and Japan would allow the US military to maintain a persistent presence in the region.

McCain, who has been critical of the F-35 programme after years of cost increases and technical challenges, lauded recent progress on what he called an “enormously challenging programme.”

“I am — after many years of frustration and setbacks — encouraged that the overall programme is moving in the right direction,” McCain said in a speech at the base.

But he cautioned that much work was still needed before the programme could be called a success, including better cooperation among various Pentagon agencies, and between the government and the defense companies that are building the plane.

Air Force Major General Christopher Bogdan, who will become the Pentagon F-35 programme executive officer on December 6, in September said ties between the company and the government were the worst he had ever seen.

“It’s a big milestone,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Scott, who has been flying Harrier jets for 14 years and commands the new squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.

“There’s something to be said for walking into a new hangar and seeing it all in person. Airplane landing, people getting out, Marines working on it,” he told Reuters. “Yep, it exists. It’s not just a distant unicorn far away.”

The squadron Scott leads was first activated in 1941, and was also the first to fly the Boeing F/A-18D fighter in 1989.

Yuma will carry out the operational evaluation of the F-35B plane, which is needed before it can be cleared for operational use, something that Marines hope to achieve in 2015.

First local area flights are likely to begin just before Christmas, or early in January, after some additional conditions have been met, Colonel Kevin Killea, who oversees aviation requirements for the Marine Corps, said.

Killea said the military and Lockheed were continuing to work through technical challenges on the new fighter, including a sophisticated new helmet and software development, but said the start up of the squadron was a step forward and should also reassure international partners on the programme.

“We’re not trying to kid anybody about these guys being operational in six months and deploying. That’s a long way off. But the airplane is maturing, it’s moving along ... and we’re happy to have it in the hands of operators,” he said.

Killea said some modifications would be made to the F-35 planes that had been ferried to the base, including changes to strengthen the air inlet door used for vertical landings, but the changes should be completed over the next few months.

Lockheed said in a statement that the three F-35Bs delivered to Yuma brought the total number of all F-35 planes delivered in 2012 to 20.

Reuters
NEWS UPDATES
Oman
MED2020 conference to discuss advances in medicine, surgery
ISC organises Diwali fair
Visit Richwood Antiques today without appointment
Omani Media Days expo starts in Paris
Researchers to be honoured
Sunaidy checks facilities at Al Madina Logistics
Tanzanian official visits Sohar Estate
Other Top Stories
US may okay more centrifuges in Iran N-talks
Nadella’s pay tops $80m with big stock awards
Syria military response may fuel extremism: UN
Palestine to join world bodies, if UN resoultion fails
French device ‘helps doctors detect Ebola in 15 minutes’
India
Decks cleared for e-auction of coal blocks to firms
Make paid news poll offence, put ceiling on campaign spending: EC
Modi to spend Diwali with flood-hit in Kashmir
Pakistan’s objection derails UN convention on terrorism, says Doval
Kerala seeks legal help in Isro case
Nokia staff want to roll out Amma cell phones
Khattar to take oath as first BJP CM in Haryana
RBI tells banks to partially freeze KYC non-compliant accounts
BJP set to form government in Maharashtra after Diwali
Disclosures on black money ‘will embarrass Congress’
E-companies bring smiles to faces of rail passengers
Agencies keep watch on terror threat: NSA
Pakistan
TTP sacks spokesman for supporting Baghdadi militia
Robbery ‘appals’ Edhi, ex-staffer on suspect list
New airport project in Gwadar gets green signal
Imran vows to end sit-in if Sharif reveals details of assets
Solar radiation measuring station opens in Punjab
Beggars bear brunt of terror crackdown
Middle East
Top cleric’s death leaves gap in Iranian power structure
War-hit Gazans downbeat on promised aid
Sudan ruling party chooses Bashir as poll candidate
Egypt plans cash sops to offset subsidy cut impact
Syrian stones daughter to death in video
Anbar turns militia’s key target
Asia
HK leader offers olive branch to lure protesters
Search resumes for survivors a week after Nepal blizzard
Runaway teen threatens Abbott in terror video
House approves bill granting credit assistance to OFWs
Reforms to be tested as Myanmar poll set for ’15
China to plug ‘gift’ loophole to tackle graft
Business
OOC in talks to buy minority stake in Oxy’s Oman assets
OCCI supports faster economic diversification
Call to focus on EOR, tight gas
India to let private firms in coal mining
Financial Tech to absorb scam-hit NSEL, liabilities
Falling oil lights up India economic outlook
India move to deregulate diesel prices credit positive, says Moody’s
iPhone sales better than expected but iPad volumes slide
China hackers may have attacked iCloud
JLR opens first foreign unit in China
Europe
Moscow, Kiev and EU struggle to end gas price dispute
Total CEO killed in Moscow plane crash
Istanbul varsity a hotbed for rival protests over Baghdadi militia
Turkey boosts hacking probe
‘Abu Hamza aide’ extradited to US is mentally ill
Sports
Mixed feelings over Pistorius sentence
De Villiers leads SA to victory
Blind helps United come off with draw
Rohr resigns as Niger coach after poor show
India’s oldest football club faces cash crunch
End of 2022 is Blatter’s chance to make amends
Scotland scales four shots clear at top
BCCI suspends Windies’ tours
Al Harthy makes Porsche GT3 Cup return
Watson set for summer of cricket after injury layoff
Marsh, O’Keefe to herald new dawn in Aussie cricket
Wozniacki stuns Sharapova in WTA Finals
Americas
US issues tighter rules for Ebola health workers
Canadian who mowed down soldiers has terror links: Police
Californian charged with murder of Saudi student
Rising cyber attacks prompt US to revamp security prosecution team
Court suspends judge over porn scandal
Autistic student bullied at school, on social media

Sports


International

© 2013 Oman Tribune. All rights reserved. Best viewed in 800 X 600 resolution