The Marine Corps achieved another first for its F-35 program in early January as an F-35C squadron deployed on an aircraft carrier for the first time.
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, (VMFA-314), based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, left San Diego Jan. 3 aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, according to a Marine Corps press release.
The squadron, also known as the Black Knights, was the first Marine Corps unit to transition to the F-35C in January 2020 and the first squadron to declare full operational capability for the F-35C in July 2021.
“The Black Knight’s deployment of F-35C Lightning II aboard USS Abraham Lincoln is the newest chapter in the Marine Corps’ long history of naval integration,” Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, the commander of 3rd Marine Air Wing, said in a press release.
The F-35C variant of the Lightning II was designed to take off of large Navy aircraft carriers. The Marine Corps also fields the F-35B vertical takeoff variant and already has deployed F-35B squadrons on aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.
“The upcoming deployment represents years of hard work and innovation by the Marines and Sailors of VMFA-314, MAG-11, and 3rd MAW,” the general added. “It also reinforces our commitment to fielding the most lethal and ready Navy-Marine Corps force as we project warfighting capabilities throughout the Indo-Pacific region, or globally wherever our nation calls.”
The Marine Corps hopes the F-35C’s long range fires and electronic warfare capabilities will increase the forces ability to operate in the Pacific.
“Having this asset available greatly increases the Marine Corps’ ability to provide security to our allied nations and preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Lt. Col. Brendan M. Walsh, the squadron’s commanding officer, said in the press release.
The deployment of the F-35C is not the only historic moment for the Abraham Lincoln’s deployment.
Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, the carrier’s commanding officer, is the first woman to lead a nuclear carrier in U.S. Navy history. She took command of the ship in August 2021.