A Marine base in North Carolina recently welcomed its first F-35B fighter jet.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 542, located at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, received its first F-35B Lightning II jet May 31, according to a press release from the air station. A second F-35B aircraft was scheduled to arrive on June 1 to the squadron, a part of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The arrival of the fifth-generation fighter jet marks the start of F-35 deliveries to Cherry Point. VMFA-542 is one of the Marine Corps’ first East Coast operational F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadrons.

“As we replace our legacy aircraft the Hornet and the Harrier we’re [bringing] capable and more capable aircraft to the front lines,” Maj. David Faerber, an F-35 pilot, told WITN.

“The Marine Corps is evolving a lot from our legacy platforms to our fifth-generation platforms,” Cherry Point Commanding Officer Col. Brendan Burks told WNCT.

“What that does is allow us to take that competition and near-peer competitors and go into places we were not able to go before.”

He added the goal is to have six full squadrons of the F-35s with 10 planes per squadron, though the total number of planes could possibly expand.

“It’s a great impact to the local area here. This is 15 years in the making to bring F-35s to Cherry Point,” Burks told the outlet.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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