The F-35B made its first transatlantic flight June 29, 2016. Three F-35’s flew from MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina and landed at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. They were assisted by two KC-10’s, and refueled 15 times over the Atlantic. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian Burdett/Released)
Saying an advanced military aircraft is like a dinosaur usually isn’t a good thing, but Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis meant it as the highest compliment.
The Marine Corps recently put the F-35B Lightning II through its paces in a highly contested airspace combat scenario. The result? The Jjoint Sstrike Ffighters were able to destroy all 24 enemy targets without taking any losses.
"It was like 'Jurassic Park,' watching a velociraptor," Davis said. "It kills everything. It does really well."
Marine Lt. Gen. Jon Davis compared the F-35 joint strike fighter to this dinosaur in the "Jurassic Park" movies, adding that it "kills everything."
Photo Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Speaking before the House Armed Services subcommittee on readiness Wednesday, Davis said that fourth ifth-generation aircraft like the F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler would get shot down by their pseudo aggressors when running similar training scenarios. usually have high rates of attrition running the same course.
"We just ran a normal scenario we would have with our legacy aircraft," he said. "Generally about half to a third of the airplanes don’t make it through." he said.
But the advanced stealth and electronic warfare capabilities of the F-35 are impressing military leaders with their providing high readiness rates, high mission success rates, and advanced capabilities, said Davis, the Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation.
"We’re very excited about the airplane," he said. "What we’re seeing right now in the F-35 is exceptional capability. ," he said. "We can’t get that airplane fast enough into the fleet."
Davis has two sons who are also pilots in the Marine Corps, and he said his oldest is gearing up tting ready to start flying the F-35 25.
"[My] Yyoungest one would like to do it, too," he added.
The Marines also have three F-35s headed to England to participate in the Riat and Farnborough air shows later this month.
The Marine Corps declared their variant of the aircraft — the F-35B — operational in July 2015. The Navy isn’t expected to reach their initial operational capability (IOC) until 2018.
The Air Force is on course to reach initial operational capability IOC later this year, sometime between August and December. But officials are still trying to hash out a number of problems with the craft, including an ejection seat that poses a lethal risk to pilots who weigh under 135 pounds lbs., and ongoing glitches with the plane’s software programs.
Phillip Swarts is a reporter for Air Force Times, covering the F-35, RPAs, other aircraft, advanced technology and space operations. He can be reached at email@example.com.