Navy, Marines Detail F-35 Buys

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos on Monday signed an agreement that defines the mix of 680 F-35 strike fighters that their two services collectively will procure. The Navy will buy 260 F-35C aircraft, the variant optimized for aircraft carrier operations. The Marine Corps will buy 80 F-35Cs, along with 340 F-35Bs built for short takeoff and vertical landing. The F-35Cs will fly from Navy aircraft carriers; the F-35Bs will operate from L-class ships. Thomas Laux, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for air programs, said this agreement demonstrates the Navy leadership’s commitment to the F-35B, which faces cancellation, if engineers cannot overcome its developmental challenges in the next two years. Laux said the two services will “completely” integrate their F-35 training. By the way, the Air Force intends to purchase 1,763 F-35A aircraft. (AFPS report by Lisa Daniel)