USMC F-35B Lightning II fighters to Philippines exercise for first time

U.S. Marine Corps Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft operating from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), with embarked Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) 4, led by 4th Marine Regiment, arrived in Subic Bay on March 30, 2019, in preparation for Exercise Balikatan 2019.

USMC F 35B Lightning II fighters to Philippines exercise for first time 925 Lockheed Martin F-35B of the USMC (Picture source: US Navy / Lockheed Martin )

It’s the first time that F-35B fighters are involved in an international exercise, in this case in the Philippines for “Balikatan 2019”, a large US-Philippino exercise. Australia is also participating and ASEAN Members will come as observers. They all will conduct amphibious operations, live-fire training, urban operations, aviation operations, and counterterrorism response. All events will take place in Luzon and Palawan.

USS Wasp is the flagship for the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group and is currently forward deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to provide a ready-response force for any type of contingency.F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters training in the Southeast Asian nation.

This first deployment of F-35Bs meets the US Government and Lockheed Martin’s policy consisting in involving early-produced aircraft in exercises in view of collecting a maximum of information resulting from actual operational conditions rather than committing only test aircraft during many more years before the mass production of a “final” aircraft. Factory test flights are carried on simultaneously with limited operational exercices to shorten the fine tuning of FOC aircraft.