Marine Corps F-35C squadron completes first deployment with carrier strike group

By Nick Wilson / August 11, 2022 at 12:29 PM

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group has become the first CSG to deploy with a Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II squadron, and the second ever to deploy with F-35C stealth fighters.

The strike group, with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, returns to its home port in San Diego today after a seven-month deployment in the 7th and 3rd Fleet operating areas.

Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, the Abraham Lincoln’s (CVN-72) commanding officer, said integrating the 10 F-35Cs was largely “seamless and flawless.” She commended both the weapon systems and the data collection capabilities the aircraft provided.

“The situational awareness that they were able to provide to the commander was pretty impressive,” she said. “They were really able to demonstrate simply amazing capabilities for collecting, analyzing and sharing data amongst everyone in the strike group in order to make the best operational decisions.”

VMFA-314 is the first Marine squadron to transition from the retiring F/A-18A/C to the F-35C, which reached initial operational capability in Dec. 2020.

After the emergence of potential problems with F-35 ejection seats, a July 19 directive mandated that the entire F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet be inspected for faulty seat initiator cartridges within a 90-day period.

Bauernschmidt said that both the F-35Cs and F-18s embarked with the CSG were inspected for this issue, with little impact to their mission.

“We had the right people and the right parts. Within a matter of hours, we were able to keep all of those aircraft up and completing the mission as required,” she said.

According to a Navy press release, a total of 21,307 fixed-wing and helicopter flight hours --including 10,250 sorties, 8,437 launches and 8,487 aircraft arrestments -- were completed during the deployment.