ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps’ first operational squadron to fly the F-35C carrier-capable version of the Lightning II joint strike fighter has retired its last F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter.
In ceremonies held June 21 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) retired its last Hornet, an F/A-18A++ version. The Black Knights, as the squadron is known, are now in transition to the F-35C at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, under the tutelage of the Navy’s F-35C replacement training squadron, VFA-125.
The Marine Corps flies both the short-takeoff/vertical landing F-35B version and the F-35C aircraft carrier version. The Corps currently fields three operational F-35B squadrons, VMFA-121, -211, and -122.
The Corps is procuring 67 F-35Cs to equip squadrons that will deploy with Navy carrier air wings. In recent years the Corps has assigned two VMFA F/A-18 squadrons to deploy with carrier air wings.