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Marines make history deploying first F35-C fighters, Navy does too

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) transits the Pacific Ocean. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary S. Welch/U.S. Navy)

The USS Abraham Lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has headed out on a new deployment to the Indo-Pacific ocean, marking milestones for the Marine Corps and the Navy.

For the Marines, it’s the first time they are deploying the F-35C fighter aboard an aircraft carrier. For the Navy, the deployment marks the first time a woman has been an executive officer and now captain of an aircraft carrier. Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt took command of the ship in August.

“The Black Knight’s deployment of F-35C Lightning II aboard (the) USS Abraham Lincoln is the newest chapter in the Marine Corps’ long history of naval integration,” Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said. “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.”

To get ready to deploy, the squadron trained for nine months. Locals might have seen some of the training during Summer Fury, an aviation exercise where aircraft flew over much of Southern California. The training also included long-range air strike exercises from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to simulate possible future conflicts where a fighter could refuel on a makeshift base.

It was also during the preparations for this deployment, on Aug. 31, when a helicopter aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln lost control and fell overboard. Five sailors died with the helicopter, their remains were recovered Oct. 13. A sixth sailor was recovered a few hours after the helicopter went overboard.

The USS Abraham Lincoln left San Diego Bay on Jan. 3. The deployment comes as hostile talk continues between China and Taiwan, with China claiming Taiwan as its own territory.

The new fighter plane – one of three F-35 aircraft types developed for use on an aircraft carrier – gives pilots access to real-time battlespace information, a 360-degree view, and sensors that provide information from the air and ground. Sensors also can send information to commanders in the field and back in the United States. The fighters replace the aging AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler.

On Jan. 21, 2021, Miramar and the aircraft wing made history when Lt. Col. Cedar Hinton, commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, landed the first F-35C at the San Diego base.

By 2032, 10 squadrons now based at Miramar are scheduled to have transitioned to the F-35. Six will be remain based at Miramar and four will be at Marine Corps Airstation Yuma. The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is the largest in the Marine Corps.


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