CHERRY POINT, N.C. (WNCT) – Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 542, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing is set to receive new aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
On Wednesday, the first of two F-35B Lightning II jets touched down at the air station, marking the beginning of F-35 deliveries.
“What the F-35 brings is modern sensor suites to tact air, specifically for the Marine Corps. As we place our legacy aircraft, the Hornet and the Harrier, Marine-capable and more capable aircraft to the front line,” Maj. David Faerber said, an F-35B pilot with VMFA 542.
MCAS Cherry Point officials say these aircraft are the fifth generation of joint strike fighter jets.
“The Marine Corps is evolving a lot from our legacy platforms to our fifth-generation platforms. What that does is allow us to take that competition and near-peer competitors and go into places we were not able to go before,” MCAS Cherry Point Commanding Officer Col. Brendan Burks said.
Burks added the goal is to have six full squadrons of these F-35s.
“We’ll have 10 planes per squadron, and then in the future should they decide to buy more, then we’ll expand to 96,” Burks said.
These aircraft are advanced, said one official.
“One of the things that makes it unique is the fact that it is a flying network of sensors,” Marine Aircraft Group 14 Commanding Officer Col. J. T. Bardo said.
Burks added these aircraft help the local economy as well.
“It’s a great impact to the local area here. This is 15 years in the making to bring F-35s to Cherry Point. Currently, we have $2.19 billion in economic impact in the area and that’s just going to continue to grow,” Burk said.