First Operational F-35B Squadron Arrives in Japan
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — F-35B Lightning II aircraft, belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 12, arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, beginning the squadron’s permanent basing at the air station, the Marine Corps said in a release of the same date.
“The arrival of the F-35B embodies our commitment to the defense of Japan and the regional-security of the Pacific,” said Maj. Gen. Russell Sanborn, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general. “We are bringing the most advanced technology to the Pacific to respond to the wide range of missions we take part in and provide greater support to our regional allies.”
Prior to arriving in Iwakuni, VMFA-121 was stationed with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS Yuma, Ariz. During the squadron’s time in Arizona, the aircraft successfully participated in numerous exercises and training events.
“Our training in the U.S. has prepared us well for our mission here in Japan and we are very honored to have such a warm welcome,” said Lt. Col. J. T. Bardo, commanding officer of VMFA-121. “Our Marines and family members take great pride in being able to serve here and be part of the amazing community in Iwakuni, both on and around the air station.”
The F-35B represents the future of Marine Corps tactical aviation and incorporates the mission capabilities of the current Marine Corps platforms it is replacing — the AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler — within a single airframe.