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On January 11, 2012, excitement surrounds the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida as the Marine Corps welcomes the newest member to its fleet. The F-35B is a variation of the Joint Strike Figther. It is a tactical fixed-wing aircraft that will replace the aging jets of the Marine Corps. The Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 which is the F-35 training squadron of 2d Marine Aircraft Wing based at Eglin AFB is the first squadron to receive the F-35B. The aircraft will be used for pilot and technician training.
According to Maj. Gen. Jon M. Davis, commanding general of 2d MAW, “The Marine Corps has to be ready to fight across the spectrum of war; a force that is most ready when the nation is least ready. The F-35B gives us the capability to do just that.”
The F-35B has a short take-off and vertical landing capabilities. It will reduce maintenance cost while helping the marine ensure its tactical dominance needed to dissuade potential adversaries and protect the nation’s interest. The aircraft will replace the Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler.
Commanding Officer of VMFAT-501, Lt. Col. James B. Wellons added praise to the F-35B, “The STOVL capability of the F-35B will enable us to deploy with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force and ensure these fifth-generation capabilities are available when needed. Our mission is to conduct F-35B operations in coordination with our joint and coalition partners at Eglin Air Force Base in order to attain our annual pilot training requirement.”
The F-35B completed 250 vertical landings this year. It includes 72 vertical landings and shoirt takeoffs on the USS Wasp in October.
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The White House turned down the sale of F-16 C/D jets because of concerns that the sale would upset relations with China more than a sale to upgrade older jets, the officials said.
The Obama administration is expected to announce as early as Wednesday the sale of a package of equipment and weapons worth $5.8 billion to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of 145 F-16 jets. In agreeing to the upgrades, President Obama and White House officials rejected a proposal sought by some in the administration to offer Taiwan66 new and more advanced F-16 C/D jets.
Administration officials briefed Congress on the deal Friday and are defending the decision not to sell new jets by asserting that the upgrades will give modernized Taiwanese F-16s a “near C/D” capability.
A congressional military specialist, however, said the expected arms package will be insufficient in bolstering Taiwan’s air power. In addition to announcing the Taiwanese military upgrade, the Pentagonthis week will release a congressional mandated study on Taiwan’s air power.
The study concludes that Taiwan’s military should buy short-takeoff and vertical-landing jets such as the British-design AV-8B Harrier jump jet or the new F-35B vertical-takeoff version, according to the officials familiar with the aircraft.That conclusion was based on anticipated Chinese missile strikes against Taiwanese airfields with cratering munitions that would thwart takeoffs by F-16s and other jets.
A defense official said that conclusion appears skewed to support the administration’s decision not to sell new F-16s by highlighting airstrip vulnerability.
The Obama administration has been seeking closer military ties to China. In January, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates proposed holding talks on nuclear weapons, missile defenses, cyberwarfare and space. A Chinese general promised to study the proposal.
Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the pending arms sale. He said U.S. arms-sale policy is based on the three joint communiques with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.
On military ties, Mr. Little said: “From our perspective, we have made progress in our dialogue as we work toward a healthy, stable and reliable and continuous military-to-military relationship.”
Source: The Washington Times
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Just days after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, USMC Harrier fighters, Predator drones and a special operations aircraft missed came within inches of taking out the next big target on their terror hit list, the man considered the biggest threat to America.
It was a tip from the Yemeni government that sent U.S. aircraft over the wilds of southern Yemen’s Shabwa province in search of Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric and al Qaeda leader who has been linked to several deadly plots against America.
According to ABC News, the U.S. military dispatched a fearsome array of heavily armed warplanes including Marine Harrier jets, Predator drones and a special operations aircraft carrying short range Griffin missiles to follow a pickup truck in which Awlaki was a passenger. This was on May 5,2011.
But unlike the successful mission that eliminated bin Laden, this raid would be marred by what an official described to ABC News as a series of “errors.”
With Harriers and a Predator drone still overhead, the U.S. fired another missile at Awlaki. This time a huge fireball engulfed the pickup truck. The U.S. military trackers thought they had their man.But then they watched, stunned, as the truck drove straight out of the fireball to safety. The missile had only grazed the back bumper.
The AV-8B Harriers, which were almost out of gas, had to leave. The remaining aircraft tried to keep following Awlaki to take another shot. But then cloud cover got in the way. Awlaki was able to exploit a moment of hesitation while the targeting pods and the surveillance aircraft were refocusing to jump out of his pickup truck and move to another.
Source: ABC News
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The Spanish Navy’s Harrier AV8B aircraft went through a test flight program at Cassidian Spain’s facilities in San Pablo (Seville).
The program to upgrade the configuration of the Navy’s Harrier AV8B aircraft includes, among other modifications, the installation of the 408A engine and the implementation of improvements to the structure and avionics systems, as well as the incorporation of various Technical Directives and SDLM/AGE third level maintenance.
The rest of the aircraft covered by this contract is presently at the San Pablo facilities undergoing various stages of implementation of the modifications.
The AV-8B Harrier is a single-seat, light attack aircraft that provides offensive air support to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). By virtue of its Vertical/Short Take-Off or Landing (V/STOL) capability, the AV-8B can operate from a variety of amphibious ships, rapidly constructed expeditionary airfields, forward sites (e.g., roads), and damaged conventional airfields. This makes the aircraft particularly well-suited for providing dedicated close air support.
Enrique Barrientos, CEO of Cassidian Spain, comments: “Our most important objective is to meet our customer’s needs. This is a milestone in the Harrier Upgrade program and an example of our commitment to the Spanish Navy relating to the sustainment and operational support of its fixed-wing aircraft, as well as the development of new capabilities to enhance our service.”