Navy Celebrates New F-35C Squadron at Eglin

The Navy officially stood up Strike Fighter Squadron 101 during a ceremony at the joint F-35 training schoolhouse at Eglin AFB, Fla. The reconstituted unit, known as the “Grim Reapers,” will be responsible for training Navy F-35C pilots and maintainers, according to an Oct. 2 release from the F-35 program office. “Our Navy needs aircraft capable of overcoming a variety of threats—surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles, and tactical aircraft,” said Vice Adm. David Buss, Naval Air Forces commander, during the Oct. 1 event. “The F-35C brings stealth capability to the ultimate sea base—the flight deck of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier—for the first time in our history,” he said. The squadron, designated VFA-101, received its first F-35C in June. The Navy expects to commence real-world operations with F-35Cs in 2019. “The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and rapid response of carrier air wings and joint task forces for decades to come,” said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 general manager, in the company’s release.