The US Marine Corps (USMC) has received its first carrier variant (CV) Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the company announced on 22 December.
Aircraft CF-19 will now be transferred from the Fort Worth production facility in Texas to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where it will be assigned to the US Navy's (USN's) VFA-101 'Grim Reapers' for pilot training.
The USMC is acquiring a mixed fleet of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B and CV F-35C aircraft. The current plan is for the Corps' current McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs to be replaced by 353 F-35Bs, and its Boeing F/A-18 Hornets to be replaced by 67 F-35Cs. Initial operating capability for the F-35B is slated to be achieving in the coming months, while that for the F-35C is expected in 2018.
CF-19 was the 36th and final F-35 to be delivered this year. Aircraft delivered in 2014 comprised 23 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As to the US Air Force (USAF), two F-35As to the Royal Australian Air Force, four F-35Bs to the USMC, six F-35Cs to the USN, and one F-35C to the USMC.
With the programme still in low-rate initial production (LRIP), the final two lots (LRIP 10 and LRIP 11) are due to be contracted in the next couple of years. After 2016, Lockheed Martin intends to ramp-up to full-rate production of about one aircraft per day.