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An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), conducts expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO) support and short take-off and vertical landings on simulated narrow roads at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, April 6, 2021. VMFA-122 continues to refine EABO tactics to increase 3rd MAWs operation reach and ability to deliver long range precision fires in preparation for future conflicts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya

Yuma F-35B pilots go off-roading

12 Apr 2021 | 1stLt Charles C. Allen 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

(April 12, 2021) Third Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) conducted its first ever F-35B flights to support expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO) on narrow, shortened runways at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, California, April 6, 2021. This training provides the pilots of VMFA-122 the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to project fifth generation combat power into some of the most austere and degraded operating environments around the world.

Tactics that utilize short field landing and takeoffs ensure that the Marine Corps is able to operate in any location, even those that have been damaged from combat or regions that simply do not possess the infrastructure to build and maintain traditional airfields. The ability to perform flight operations utilizing the F-35B’s short take-off and vertical landing capabilities will allow the pilots to utilize non-traditional runways in any battlespace, such as highways, roads or other surfaces, greatly expanding the Marine Corps ability to project combat power.

“The bottom-line is that the F-35B gives us the capability to go where others can’t or won’t and it brings fifth generation combat power with it,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, Commanding General of 3d Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Marines of 3d MAW continue to make strides in training to ensure they remain part of the most lethal naval force in the world, able to operate in any clime or place, even locations that have been degraded by adversaries in an attempt to deny U.S. forces access.  

“The Navy and Marine Corps together will need to fight for sea succeed we must possess the capability to persist within the arc of adversary fires,” said General David H. Berger, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, when discussing the need for refinement of training and tactics as part of his Force Design 2030.

The Marine Corps transition to the F-35B has brought with it revolutionary advancements in technology that have enabled squadrons like VMFA-122 to refine their tactics in any location, against any peer threat.

“We are doing a concept demonstration for capability intended for forward base operations in the F-35 aircraft landing on short fields with confined space, much like we would find in places around the world that don’t have full runways and that require the unique capabilities of the F-35B and its short take-off and vertical landing characteristics,” said Col. Ben Hutchins, Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 13. “Today’s operations are another step towards F-35B expeditionary road operations, which facilitate Pacific expeditionary advanced base operations to narrow roads and landing areas.”


3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.

For questions regarding this release, please contact the 3d MAW Communication Strategy and Operations Office at


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