The Marine Corps Air Station Miramar has reported that Marine Wing Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, the “Black Knights”, received the Marine Corps’ first F-35C Lightning II on Jan. 21, 2020.
The squadron’s history began with its commissioning in 1943 at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, as the “Bob’s Cats.” In 1952, they were the first squadron in 3rd MAW to transition to jet aircraft and fly the F-9F Panther. In 1957, they officially became the “Black Knights” with the arrival of the F-4D Skyray. In October 1961, the “Black Knights” were the first Marine Corps squadron to transition to the F-4B Phantom and in 1982, the first in the Department of the Navy to fly the F/A-18 Hornet.
The “Black Knights” have proven themselves time and again from campaigns in the South Pacific to the Vietnam War and from Operation El Dorado Canyon to the Global War on Terror. VMFA-314’s storied history should give the American people confidence that the “Black Knights” will continue to fix, fly, and fight the next generation of aircraft.
The F-35C is one of three variants fielded by the Department of Defense. It is a result of decades of advancements that provide aviation capabilities previously thought unattainable.
The “C” variant was designed to operate from an aircraft carrier and is the first 5th generation long-range stealth strike fighter jet designed for that mission. The F-35C’s control surfaces and landing gear are better equipped for carrier operation than the other variants. The F-35C is equipped with larger internal fuel storage, which when combined with its ability to refuel in-flight, extends its range and allows for enhanced flight time when compared to other aircraft.
The F-35 variants include the F-35A, which utilizes conventional takeoff and landing and is designed to operate from traditional land-based runways. The F-35B is a short takeoff and vertical landing variant and specifically designed to operate from austere airfields and amphibious ships. 3rd MAW is proud that it now employs the first F-35C squadron along with two F-35B squadrons with more planned in the near future.