USMC Commandant, Gen. James Amos, gave testimony to the House Armed Services Committee. Here's what he said about the F-35B:
As we modernize Marine fixed-wing aviation assets for the future, the continued development and fielding of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Joint Strike Fighter remains the centerpiece of our effort. The capability inherent in a STOVL jet allows the Marine Corps to operate in harsh conditions and from remote locations where few airfields are available for conventional aircraft. It is also specifically designed to operate from amphibious ships – a capability that no other tactical fifth-generation aircraft possesses. The ability to employ a fifth-generation aircraft from 11 big-deck amphibious ships doubles the number of “aircraft carriers” from which the United States can employ this game-changing capability. The expanded flexibility of STOVL capabilities operating both at-sea and from austere land bases is essential, especially in the Pacific. Once fully fielded, the F-35B will replace three legacy aircraft – F/A-18, EA-6B, and AV-8B. Training continues for our F-35B pilots. In 2012, we flew more than 500 hours and trained 15 pilots. Just recently, in November 2012, we established our first operational squadron, VMFA-121, at MCAS Yuma. Continued funding and support from Congress for this program is of utmost importance for the Marine Corps as we continue with a plan to “sundown” three different legacy platforms.When asked about the status of the software he said:
“…the fact of the matter is that the program officer, program manager, General Bogdan, went on record here just a little bit ago saying that he had confidence that (F-35) 2B software would be ready to go in time to meet the IOC (Initial Operating Capability) of the Marine Corps of 2015. The software in 2B will provide a more capable platform than we currently have in the entire United States Marine Corps today. It will provide an airplane that will deliver more weapons, be more capable, be stealthier, have more capabilities, more information assurance, more information dominance, than anything we're flying today in the United States Marine Corps.”Obviously, the Marine Corps is "all in" on the F-35B and ready to spool up and deploy it. As Gen. Amos says, it is a fighter that an airplane that "will deliver more weapons, be more capable, be stealthier, have more capabilities, more information assurance, more information dominance, than anything we're flying today in the United States Marine Corps.” A former aviator himself, he's another one who "gets it."