Sister Service F-35 IOC Dates

Based on the current development schedules, the Marine Corps anticipates declaring by December 2015 that its F-35B strike fighter variant is capable of initial real-world operations, according to a newly issued Pentagon report to Congress. The Navy projects that its carrier-based F-35C will be ready for combat by February 2019, states the same report, released on May 31. For the Marine Corps, initial operational capability is targeted between July 2015 and December 2015, when the first F-35B operational unit has adequate pilots and maintenance crews in place and is equipped with 10 to 16 aircraft in the Block 2B software configuration that are capable of close air support, offensive and defensive counterair, air interdiction, assault support escort, and armed reconnaissance. For the Navy, the F-35C will reach IOC between August 2018 and February 2019, states the report, issued to meet a congressional mandate for F-35 IOC dates. The Navy counts IOC as having the personnel in place and 10 airplanes in the first F-35C operational squadron ready to fight in “assigned missions.” These airplanes will use the full-up Block 3F software configuration. (F-35 IOC report to Congress) (See also Marine Corps release and Navy release.)