MARINE CORPS AIRCRAFT
Of the 61 F/A-18As upgraded to the A+ configuration, 54
have been upgraded to F/A-18C capability (as F/A-18A++).
The service plans to replace approximately 25 of the A++ aircraft as they reach service life limits with F/A-18Cs upgraded
to a C+ configuration, equipped with Link 16, color cockpit
displays, a moving-map display, ALE- 47 infrared countermeasures, the Naval Aircrew Common Ejection Seat and the
Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System. Marines will continue
to operate F/A-18A++/C/C+/Ds until they are replaced by F- 35
Starting in 2014, a total of 36 retrofits began for the
F/A-18C/D Electronics Warfare systems, resulting in sophisticated systems such as the Block III Integrated Defensive
Electronic Countermeasures System that includes the
AN/ALR- 67(V) 3 Radar Warning Receiver, AN/ALQ-214(V) 5
Airborne Jammer and the AN/ALE- 47 Infrared Countermeasures (chaff and flares). In 2016, modification began of
30 F/A-18Cs to the F/A-18C+ configuration. The first F/A-18C+
was delivered to VMFA- 115 in 2016.
The Corps has seven active squadrons flying F/A-18A++s
or F/A-18Cs/C+s, four squadrons of F/A-18Ds and one Reserve
squadron flying F/A-18A++s. A fleet-replacement squadron
operates F/A-18A++/B/C/D aircraft. Marine F/A-18A++/C squadrons have been integrated into several Navy carrier air wings.
Marine Corps Hornets continue to support Operation
Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
(See the Navy Aircraft section for F/A- 18 specifications.)
F-35B/C LIGHTNING II
BRIEFING: The F-35B is intended to replace the Marine
Corps’ F/A-18C Hornets and AV-8B Harriers. It has an engine,
software and avionics in common with the F-35A and C variants. However, its internal weapons bay is slightly smaller to
accommodate the lift fan used for vertical flight. (See the Navy
Aircraft section for a description of F- 35 mission systems.)
The F-35B first flew on June 8, 2008, and vertical lift
operations began with initial hover pit work in January 2009
when the first STOVL-qualified engine arrived at the Lockheed
Martin Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The first
F-35B arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md.,
in December 2009 to begin STOVL flight testing. It was joined
in 2010 by three other test aircraft, including the first with a
full mission system installed. In October 2011, the F-35B completed sea trials onboard USS Wasp.
In 2012, the U.K. Royal Navy reversed its 2010 decision to
purchase F-35Cs in lieu of F-35Bs. The Italian Navy is the only
other foreign service planning to buy the F-35B.
The Marine Corps’ training squadron for the F- 35, VMFAT-
501, stood up in April 2010. The first F-35B was delivered to
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in January 2012. F-35B training began
at Eglin in mid-2012 and moved the training to Marine Corps
Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, S.C., in 2014.
The Corps’ first operational F- 35 squadron, VMFA- 121 at
MCAS Yuma, Ariz., completed transition to the F-35B in 2013
and will deploy to Japan in January 2017. A second squadron,
VMFA-211, began transition to the F-35B in 2016. Operational
Test I was conducted in May 2015 onboard USS Wasp. Initial
operational capability (IOC) was achieved on July 31, 2015.
The Developmental Test III phase was conducted onboard USS
America in late 2016.
In 2011, the Marine Corps decided to procure 340 F-35Bs
and 63 F-35Cs. The service plans to equip five Fighter Attack
Squadrons (VMFAs) with F-35Cs to augment Navy carrier air
wings. As of October 2016, 48 F-35Bs had been delivered to
the Marine Corps. (See the Navy Aircraft section for a description of the F-35C.)
Data applies to F-35B
LENGTH: ................ 51.3feet
WEIGHT: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . empty, 32,300 pounds
MAX WEIGH T: . . . . . . . . . . . takeoff, 60,000 pounds
SPEED: ..................Mach 1.0
RANGE: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 900 nautical miles unrefueled; radius, 469 nautical
POWER PLANT: . . . . . . . . . . 1 Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine
ARMAMENT:. . . . . . . . . . . . . laser-guided bombs, JDAMs, cluster munitions,
CON TRAC TORS: . . . . . . . . . Lockheed Martin Corp., Pratt & Whitney, Northrop
Grumman Corp., BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce
BRIEFING: The EA-6B Prowler’s mission is to ensure survivability of U.S. and coalition forces through the identification and
suppression of enemy air defenses using the ALQ-218 Tactical
Jamming Receiver System (TJRS) and ALQ- 99 Tactical Jamming
System (TJS), lethal suppression using the AGM- 88 High-speed
Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) and communications jamming using the USQ- 113 Radio Countermeasures Set. Navy and
Marine Corps Prowlers have supported U.S. and coalition forces
operating from a variety of expeditionary sites throughout the
world and from Navy aircraft carriers since 1971.
Major Prowler upgrades over the last four decades have
included multiple engine upgrades to the J52-P-408B, a
service life extension program and several weapon systems
upgrades. The ALQ- 99 TJS pods have received upgrades over
this same period as well, including a Universal Exciter upgrade
and two new transmitters, the band 9/10 transmitter and the
new Low-Band Transmitter.
F-35B LIGHTNING II