F-35C Lightning II Takes Flight Over the Jungle, Mock Protecting Thousands of Troops

F-35C Lightning II taking off for Jungle Warfare Exercise 22 16 photos
Photo: U.S. Navy/Capt. Charles Allen
F-35C Lightning II taking off for Jungle Warfare Exercise 22F-35A Lightning II heading for he Singapore AirshowF-35A Lightning IIs on an elephant walkF-35A Lightning II with the 495th Fighter SquadronF-35A Lightning II at Thunder and Lightning Over ArizonaF-35A Lightning II on vertical ascentF-35 Lightning buzzing the CN TowerF-35A Lighting IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 LightningF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 Lightning cruising subsonic into the sunset
The Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Lightning II has been around for a while now, having had its first flight all the way back in the mid-2000. But that was the first flight of a common platform, and the various variants of the airplane, tweaked to serve the needs of various military branches, have only recently begun being deployed.
Presently, the Marine Corps (USMC), the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and the Navy all have their own variants of the plane, tweaked to serve their distinct needs. No matter the version though, the airplane is so new that some of these branches are still in the process of getting it.

The Marine Wing Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314), for instance, is the first Marine squadron to make the switch from the F/A-18A/C to the F-35C, getting the first one back in 2020. Now, two years later, the unit is moving to integrate the airplane into the Carrier Air Wing.

As proof of how such an integration could change the way battles are fought, VMFA-314 deployed last week the F-35C to support the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, its Carrier Strike Group, but also the Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces, during an exercise held in Okinawa and titled Jungle Warfare Exercise 22.

The effort involves 7,500 U.S. Marines and the above naval forces, but also MV-22B Ospreys, CH-53E Super Stallions, F/A-18s, F-35Bs, F/A-18s and EA-18Gs. All are meant to “rehearse rapid deployments and joint warfighting concepts in response to a crisis threatening the security of islands and waterways.”

The role of the F-35C during the exercise is to conduct “simulated offensive and defensive air support, as well as air to ground support training missions” alongside the ground units involved. And it all happens in an area the American military describes as being a “hilly double-canopy jungle.”
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-35s.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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