Wednesday, May 22, 2024

US Marine Corps’ VMFA-542 achieves full operational capability with F-35B squadron

The U.S. Marine Corps announced that Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 542, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), reached a significant milestone as it attained full operational capability on Wednesday, becoming the U.S. Marine Corps’ first East Coast F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron within the Fleet Marine Force.

Full operational capability denotes VMFA-542’s readiness for comprehensive operations following its transition from a legacy tactical-aircraft platform to the F-35B Lightning II. With this achievement, the squadron is now poised to deploy globally in support of planned or unforeseen operations. As 2nd MAW’s inaugural operational fifth-generation fighter-attack squadron, VMFA-542 stands prepared to execute its mission essential tasks (METs) in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). These METs encompass various critical functions such as close-air support, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare.

Lt. Col. Brian Hansell, commanding officer of VMFA-542, lauded the Marines’ dedication and professionalism, stating, “Achieving full operational capability is a testament to the exceptional hard work and professionalism from the Marines of VMFA-542. This milestone marks the addition of a battle-ready aviation squadron with unmatched combat lethality and survivability to the Marine Expeditionary Force. We are ready and able to conduct missions globally in support of the MAGTF as we continue to prepare for the next challenge.”

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The F-35B Lightning II, known for its advanced stealth and maneuverability, equips pilots with real-time battlespace information, enhancing combat effectiveness. This variant is specifically designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings, enabling operations from amphibious assault ships and expeditionary airstrips, even those less than 2,000 feet long.

VMFA-542 commenced its transition to the F-35B Lightning II in December 2022, receiving its inaugural aircraft on May 31, 2023. Following the attainment of initial operational capability on February 5, the squadron received its 10th aircraft on March 25, culminating in achieving full operational capability on April 3.

Moreover, VMFA-542 recently participated in Exercise Nordic Response 24 in Norway, demonstrating military prowess alongside NATO allies and partners in challenging arctic environments. During this exercise, the squadron executed distributed aviation operations, including a historic landing at Kallax Air Base in Sweden, marking the first deployment of a U.S. F-35 Lightning II aircraft to Sweden and highlighting Sweden’s role as a NATO member.

VMFA-542 operates under the purview of 2nd MAW, serving as the aviation combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more

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