United States

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United States
Three Variants for Three Services

The U.S. Air Force is the largest F-35 Lightning II operator of all the international forces with a planned purchase of 1,763 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant aircraft. The F-35 will operate in conjunction with the Air Force's first 5th Generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor. The U.S. Air Force declared F-35A Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in August 2016.

Program Stats
  • Aircraft Variant: F-35A
  • Program of Record: 1,763
Base Locations
  • Edwards Air Force Base, California
  • Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
  • Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
  • Hill Air Force Base, Utah
  • Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  • Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
  • Truax Truax Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin
  • Burlington Air National Guard Base, Vermont
  • Dannelly Field, Air National Guard, Alabama
  • Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom
  • 2011: The U.S. Air Force accepted its first production-model F-35
  • 2012: Air Education and Training Command (AETC) declared Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. ready for F-35 training
  • 2014: Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, received its first of 144 F35s
  • 2015: Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom, was selected as the first USAF base in Europe
  • 2015: Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, received the first F-35A for the United States Air Force Weapons School
  • 2015: Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, officially began training F-35 pilots
  • 2015: Hill Air Force Base, Utah, received the base’s first two F-35A aircraft and flew the first combat-coded F-35As as part of the 34th Fighter Squadron
  • 2016: The U.S. Air Force declared F-35A initial operational capability
  • 2017: U.S. Air Force F-35As participated for the first time in Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
  • 2018: The U.S. Air Force conducted the first ever F-35A “elephant walk,” at Hill Air Force Base, Utah
  • 2019: The 158th Fighter Wing, Vermont, became the first Air National Guard unit to receive F-35s
  • 2019: Twelve U.S. Air Force F-35As delivered lethality, survivability and higher than 90% mission capable rates during Red Flag 19-1
  • 2020: Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, received the base’s first two F-35As

The U.S. Marine Corps currently flies the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant and plans to purchase 353 F-35Bs and 67 F-35C carrier variant aircraft. The Marine Corps declared F-35B IOC in July 2015.

Program Stats
  • Aircraft Variant: F-35B / F-35C
  • Program of Record: 353 F-35Bs / 67 F-35Cs
Base Locations
  • Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina
  • Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina
  • Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
  •  Edwards Air Force Base, California (Marine Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1))
Ship Activations
  • USS Wasp (LHD-1)
  • USS Essex (LHD-2)
  • USS America (LHA-6)
  •  USS Makin Island (LHD-8)
Program Milestones
  • 2011: U.S. Marine Corps F-35B BF-2 successfully executed a vertical landing on the deck of the USS Wasp.
  • 2012: Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 received their first F-35B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.
  • 2013: The U.S. Marine Corps conducted the first operational F-35B vertical landing.
  • 2014: The first F-35B assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.
  • 2015: The U.S. Marine Corps declared F-35B initial operational capability (IOC).
  • 2017: The U.S. Marine Corps completed its F-35B developmental test phase (DT-III).
  • 2018: The U.S. Marine Corps conducted its first F-35B combat mission over Afghanistan.
  • 2019: U.S. Marine F-35Bs returned home from the service’s first F-35B combat deployment, aboard the USS Essex.

Together with the Marines, the U.S. Navy will bring 5th Generation capability to the sea with 260 F-35C jets. The U.S. Navy plans to declare F-35C IOC in 2018.

Program Stats
  • Aircraft Variant: F-35C
  • Program of Record: 273 Aircraft
Base Locations
  • Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland
  • Naval Air Station Lemoore, California
  • Edwards Air Force Base, California
  • Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  • Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada
Ship Activations
  • USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
  • USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
  • USS George Washington (CVN-73)
Program Milestones
  • 2010: The F-35C conducted its inaugural test flight in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • 2013: The U.S. Navy received its first F-35C.
  • 2013: The U.S. Navy stood up Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 at Eglin Air Force Base, California.
  • 2014: Test pilot Tony “Brick” Wilson performed the first F-35C arrested landing (“trap”) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
  • 2016: The F-35C team completed developmental test phase (DT-III) Sea Trials, marking completion of At-Sea System Development and Demonstration (SDD) testing aboard the USS Washington.
  • 2017: Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, received the base’s first F-35C aircraft.
  • 2018: Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 conducted F-35C Operational Test-1 aboard the USS Lincoln.
  • 2018: The U.S. Navy stood up the Joint Strike Fighter Wing to oversee F-35C operations, training, and manning.
  • 2018: The U.S. Navy's first F-35C squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, completed aircraft carrier qualifications aboard the USS Carl Vinson and received Safe-For-Flight Operations Certification.
  • 2019: The U.S. Navy declared F-35C Initial Operational Capability (IOC).
  • 2020: Pilots from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 “Rough Raiders” and VFA-147 “Argonauts” became the first TOPGUN students to complete the course in the F-35C.