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Sgt. Maj. Allen Goodyear, sergeant major of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, and Col. Marcus Annibale, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, salute the colors during a re-designation and change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., June 30. During the ceremony, Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 transitioned to VMFA-211 making it the first AV-8B Harrier squadron to become an F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson/Released.)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson

First Harrier squadron transitions to F-35Bs

30 Jun 2016 | Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 redesignated to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 during a ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, June 30.

The redesignation marks the first time an AV-8B Harrier squadron transitioned to an F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron, becoming the second F-35 squadron in the United States Marine Corps.

“We’re the first of six Harrier squadrons to transition,” said Lt. Col. William Maples, commanding officer of VMA-211. “All of Marine tactical aviation, from F/A-18 Hornets, to EA-6B Prowlers and the AV-8B Harrier will all transition.”

The unit’s last flight as a Harrier squadron was May 6, and the unit received its first two F-35s on May 9.

The F-35 combines radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed and fighter agility with an integrated sensor package more powerful than any fighter aircraft in history.

“It’s got a lot of highly complex capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Chad Vaughn, commanding officer of VMFA-211. “Although it’s different [from the harrier], we’re doing the same thing and the Marine Corps should expect the same level of support or better.”

During the ceremony, Maples relinquished command of the transitioning squadron to Vaughn.

“The Marines are really what makes this aircraft special,” said Vaughn. “Their hard work, effort and dedication are what really make this aircraft awesome, so I’m humbled to be working with them and proud to lead them.”

The F-35 is replacing three legacy aircraft: the Harrier, Prowler and F/A-18.

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