May 20, 2015
The F-35 Won’t Be Going To War Against ISIS Just Yet
The Marines plan to declare 10 of their F-35B jets battle-ready in July. But the Corps is still racing to train instructor pilots on the short-takeoff-vertical-landing aircraft, and sending any of them off to war would disrupt the carefully planned training pipeline.
Meanwhile, there are a few hurdles left to clear before the F-35s can receive their certification. All 10 aircraft need to have the same mission software configuration.
Over the next two weeks, six Marine F-35Bs will conduct operational testing from the USS Wasp amphibious assault ship.
Even after the F-35Bs are declared battle-ready, they will not immediately be able to conduct all of their planned mission types. Early on, the jets will only be able to fly escort, armed reconnaissance, close air support and interdiction missions. The planes will also only be able to carry bombs internally in a weapons bay and not on wing pylons.
The aircraft will not have a gun pod and will not be able to use the full complement of air-launched weapons; among the initially missing armaments will be the Small Diameter Bomb II.