MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – (December 03, 2021) Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) returned Friday from conducting their final integrated training cycle with Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG 3) aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) making preparations to lead the Marine Corps into the next step in naval aviation as the first USMC squadron to deploy the F-35C on an aircraft carrier.
The at-sea period with CSG-3 evaluated the mission readiness of a U.S. Navy battle group and its ability to perform as an integrated unit. The exercise ensures squadrons such as VMFA-314 are fully prepared to work alongside other elements aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln as a cohesive fighting force.
“Completing this exercise is a critical phase in the training cycle and comes as the next big step for our squadron as we continue to integrate the F-35C into the carrier air wing,” said Lt. Col. Brendan M. Walsh, commanding officer, VMFA-314. “The ability to bring the F-35C to Carrier Air Wing Nine allows us to fill a significant role as an instrumental force multiplier. By leveraging our aircraft’s stealth and sensor capabilities we are able to provide the other platforms we work alongside with critical intelligence and battlespace awareness thought previously unobtainable by any of the Marine Corps legacy platforms.”
Time spent with Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW 9) aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln tested VMFA-314’s ability to perform in various mission sets alongside their Navy counterparts operating aircraft such as the E/A-18G Growler, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, E-2D Hawkeye, MH-60R/S Sea Hawk and the CMV-22 Osprey. During the exercise, the squadrons completed multiple mission sets together including integrated sea and air engagements.
Integrating the F-35C within the many elements of a U.S. Navy battle group provides the capability, flexibility and performance necessary to strengthen the carrier strike group’s ability to respond to any spectrum of military operations and preserve the United States power at sea.
“Our squadron is proud to have pioneered the F-35C program through the stand-up and transition to the DoD’s newest fighter aircraft, completing this phase of training now allows our squadron to shift our focus to the next task at hand, the Marine Corps first deployment aboard an aircraft carrier with the F-35C Lightning II early next year,” said Major Zachary P. Hartnett, executive officer of VMFA-314.
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 January 21, 2020. Now as the Marine Corps continues to develop as a modernized naval force, deploying squadrons to key strategic maritime locations enables the Marine Corps the capability to deter adversary aggression, and, if required, decisively win in conflict.
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