The Marine Corps on Wednesday took delivery of its first two F-35B strike fighter production aircraft, announced prime contractor Lockheed Martin. BF-6 and BF-8 arrived at Eglin AFB, Fla., after separate ferry flights from Lockheed’s F-35 assembly plant in Fort Worth, Tex. They are now assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing that runs Eglin’s joint F-35 schoolhouse. The Marines will use the two airplanes for pilot and maintainer training. The F-35Bs joined six production-model F-35As—the Air Force’s conventional take off and landing variant—that arrived at the schoolhouse last year, Cmdr. Kyra Hawn, a deputy spokeswoman for the F-35 program office, told the Daily Report. The schoolhouse’s first regular F-35 pilot training course was originally slated to begin this month; however, it’s not clear when that will commence. An Eglin spokeswoman declined to answer the Daily Report’s questions about the schoolhouse, saying only that no pilots have been assigned to the course yet.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.