MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.–Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Air Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing conducted an F-35C expeditionary operations demonstration at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) Twentynine Palms in CA on Dec. 3.
The demonstration spanned over 1000 miles and the aircraft was refueled and loaded with ordnance within a half hour. It was also the first time that an F-35C executed an arrested landing on a shortened airfield utilizing the M-31 arresting gear, demonstrating the F-35C’s unique capabilities and displaying the Marine Corps extended flexibility in combat operations.
“We may be called upon to execute expeditionary air base operations in accordance with the Commandant’s planning guidance,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Robert “Murphy” Ahern, the lead pilot for the VMFA-314 demonstration, “and this is something that hasn’t been done yet with the F-35C so we wanted to demonstrate it.”
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 transported ordnance, fuel, and VMFA-314 ordnance Marines in a KC-130J from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar to MCAGCC Twentynine Palms, approximately 200 miles away.
The section of F-35C’s then flew to MCAGCC Twentynine Palms where they executed arrested landings utilizing the M-31 expeditionary arresting gear, which is designed for aircraft carrier use but can be set up at an airfield of opportunity – from an island in the middle of the ocean to a remote airfield in the desert.
“The M-31 expeditionary arresting gear,” said Ahern “is designed to be set up anywhere, essentially bolting to the ground.”
Upon landing, the two F-35Cs taxied off the runway to a refueling area where they were simultaneously refueled and loaded with ordnance by personnel flown in on a KC-130J from VMGR-352.
The F-35C’s then took off to a Yuma, Ariz. training range to employ the ordnance and returned to MCAS Miramar, successfully completing the demonstration.
“None of this would’ve happened without the expertise of the ordnance team,” said Ahern.
3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.