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F-35B Arrives at Centcom HQ Prior to First Combat Deployment

An F-35B aircraft arrived Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida as part of a two-day visit meant to inform U.S. Central Command senior leaders on the short-takeoff/vertical-landing aircraft’s capacities and limitations before it enters theater operations.

The Lockheed Martin-built aircraft is slated for its first combat deployment aboard the USS Essex amphibious assault ship to complement the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s air capabilities and support operations within Centcom’s area of responsibility, the U.S. Marine Corps said Friday.

F-35B is designed to perform full spectrum combat missions and counter adversarial threats to Amphibious Readiness Group/MEU personnel as well as U.S. or coalition assets.

The aircraft’s avionics system works to help pilots view battlefield information in real time and transmit sensor data to commanders in the air, at sea and on land.

“It’s a system of systems that’s flying; its got sensors and anti-axis aerial denial capabilities,” said Lt Col. Jaime Macias, chief of plans at Marine Corps Forces Central Command.

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