The U.S. Marines will christen their first F-35B squad on Nov. 20, in what is being called a sign of “forward progress” with the most expensive military program in U.S. history.
The redesignation will occur at Yuma Air Force Base, Ariz. In a 1 p.m. ceremony, the Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 will officially be reborn as the Corps’ first operational F-35 squadron, the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.
The F-35B is the short-takeoff, vertical-landing (STOVL) design, which comes equipped with a lift fan behind the cockpit capable of creating 18,000 pounds of thrust. It is the primary configuration that will be used by the Marines, who see the fifth-generation fighter as a replacement for the F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler jets currently used.
The Air Force will purchase the F-35A variant, while the Navy is focused on the F-35C, which is designed for use on a carrier.