“This generational leap in technology will enable the Marines to operate a fleet of fighter/attack aircraft from existing runways, unimproved surfaces at austere bases, or the decks of ships. We find that capability extremely valuable.”
These were the words of then-U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Commandant Gen. James Conway nearly eight years ago when BF-1 rolled off the production line. Since then, more than 13,000 flight hours were flown in the F-35B and the USMC declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) July 31,2015.
The declaration of IOC represents the Marines’ confidence in the capabilities and maturity of the F-35B to fly it in a wartime scenario. The B model is the variant the Marines use, employing its short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) and close air support capabilities needed to accomplish this mission. USMC IOC is arguably the biggest milestone in F-35 program history, but what events and accomplishments led to this historic day?