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F-35C brings advanced strike capabilities to jungle warfare exercise

As 3rd Marine Division recently commenced Jungle Warfare Exercise 22 (JWX 22), a large-scale, joint force exercise, Marine Wing Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 integrated the capabilities of the F-35C Lightning II.

VMFA-314 supported ground operations from their position deployed onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), displaying their ability to deliver long-range strike capabilities and close air support from an aircraft carrier.

VMFA-314, the first Marine squadron to deploy the F-35C, continued to demonstrate its proficiencies during JWX 22 by conducting simulated offensive and defensive air support, as well as air-to-ground support training missions alongside the Marines of 1st Marine Air Wing, Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in support of Expeditionary Advance Base Operations.

“The opportunity to work alongside Navy and Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces allows us to demonstrate our forward presence and to showcase our readiness to support real world operations,” said Lt. Col. Brendan M. Walsh, VMFA-314 Commanding Officer. “Leveraging the Marine Corps’ decade of experience with the F-35B, we have spent the last two years working with the Navy to ensure the successful integration of the F-35C into the Carrier Air Wing and are now able to provide improved battlespace awareness and unmatched lethality.

The integration of VMFA-314 and the F-35C into the Carrier Air Wing enables U.S. naval forces the ability to launch and recover fifth-generation aircraft from nearly anywhere in the world and to relocate to new strategic locations. The employment of the F-35C provides Marine ground units stealth capabilities and combat power to create the conditions for follow-on operations within key maritime terrain.

Exercises such as JWX 22 allow squadrons operating the F-35C to integrate tactics in conjunction with ground forces to help advance expeditionary capabilities such as EABO. These rehearsals of engagements will serve to reduce response times of forward-deployed units and support the continued prosperity, security and promise of a free and open, rules-based order for the U.S. and its alliances and partnerships.

With continued deployments of fifth-generation fighters onto highly mobile aircraft carriers, the F-35C is able to provide precision long-range strike capabilities to allies while also garnering valuable intelligence from areas of operation, all while operating from at-sea or shore-based austere environments.

VMFA-314 was the first Marine Corps squadron to transition to the F-35C variant of the joint strike fighter after retiring its legacy F/A-18A/C aircraft and receiving its first F-35C on Jan. 21, 2020. Now as the Marine Corps continues to develop as a modernized naval force, deploying squadrons such as VMFA-314, to key strategic maritime locations demonstrates the Marine Corpsí capability to deter adversary aggression, and if required, decisively win in conflict.

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