The F-35B Arrives in Japan, Starts Permanent Basing

By S.L. Fuller | January 18, 2017
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F-35B Lightning II strikes Iwakuni

An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, lands at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps

The Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II has arrived at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, the Marine Corps said. Belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 12, the F-35B’s arrival marks the beginning of the squadron’s permanent basing in Iwakuni. Previously, the squadron was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, performing exercises and training events with the aircraft.

With the F-35B, the Marine Corps plans to replace the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet and the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler. The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of Lockheed's F-35 Lightning II series. The manufacturer said it is “the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft.” It uses a Rolls-Royce patented shaft-driven LiftFan propulsion system and engine. The F-35B can also take off and land like a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. The U.S. Marines, armed forces in the U.K. and the Italian Air Force have all signed on to operate this F-35 variant.


The F-35 Lightning II series features advanced stealth capabilities with fighter speed and agility. All aircraft also have fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment capabilities. The series variants are set to replace legacy fighter jets in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and 10 other countries. Lockheed Martin’s F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft, and the F-35C is a carrier variant (CV).

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