Two Air Station Beaufort pilots achieved a notable milestone Monday.
Capt. Taylor Zehrung and Capt. Robert Reddy are the first Marine pilots trained on the F-35B Lightning II straight from flight school. Most pilots transition from another aircraft to learn the F-35.
Zehrun and Reddy will report to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. The pilots received the patches of their new unit during a ceremony Friday. (c)2017 The Island Packet, by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
F35 Operational, Combat Ready
The weapons system is considered operational and combat ready by the Air Force and , Bogdan said, adding, “It is also forward-deployed today in Iwakuni, Japan, for the U.S. and operated in Israel and Italy by those F-35 customers.”
The price tag for an F-35A model costs is about $94.5 million today, marking a first in costing less than $100 million, he said.
“We believe we are on track to continue reducing the price of the F-35 such that in [fiscal year 2019], with an engine including all fees, the F-35A model will cost between $80 million and $85 million,” Bogdan said. “As part of this reduction, we have initiated a block buy strategy for our foreign partners and an economic order quantity contracting strategy for the U.S. services.”
Driving Down F-35 Costs
The overarching priority is continuing to drive costs down in the F-35 program while delivering full capability to the warfighter, he said.
“We will continue to execute this program with integrity, discipline and transparency and I hold myself and my team accountable for the outcomes on this program,” Bogdan told the panel. “Our team recognizes the great responsibility we’ve been given to provide the foundation of future U.S. and allied fighter capability for decades to come.”
“The F-35B and the F-35C remain a top acquisition priority for the ,” Davis said.
He said he is becoming increasingly convinced the F-35 is a game changer and a war winner, and added the Corps “can’t get those airplanes in the fleet fast enough to replace our F-18s and our Harriers,” which on average are 22 years old.
With the fifth-generation F-35, “We’re achieving astounding results in the highest threat scenarios and that across the range of military operations fight, with the F-35. It is changing things in a very decisive way,” Davis said.
An Acquisition Priority
Along with the and Air Force, the F-35C is a Navy aviation acquisition priority, Miller said.
“The F-35C will form the backbone of Navy air combat superiority for decades to come,” he said, adding its unique capabilities can’t be matched by modernizing the F-35 fourth-generation aircraft.
With the F-35, the carrier strike group of the future will be more lethal, survivable and able to accomplish the entire spectrum of mission sets to include immediate response to high-end threats, the admiral said.
The nation needs the capabilities of the F-35C on its carrier flight decks, Miller said. “The aircraft’s stealth characteristics, long-range combat identification and ability to penetrate threat envelopes while fusing multiple information sources into a coherent picture will transform the joint coalition view of the battlefield.”
Harris said the airplane is doing exactly what the military needs it to do.
“The final F-35A fleet is growing and will become a dominant force in our fifth-generation arsenal, deterring potential adversaries and assuring both our allies and our partners at the same time,” the general said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)