On Monday, the Marine Corps announced in a press statement that Marine Attack Squadron 311 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, would be revived. The unit had previously planned to retire its colors in October 2020. Since 1988, members of that squadron have operated AV-8 Harriers.
According to the statement, Squadron 311 will become the second operational Marine Corps squadron to fly the “C” version of the F-35 fighter. He joins Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, which began operating F-35Cs in 2020 and is based in Miramar.
On its website, manufacturer Lockheed Martin describes the F-35C as “the world’s first and only long-range stealth attack fighter designed and built explicitly for Navy carrier operations.” The C model is fitted with folding landing gear and wingtips for carrier operations.
Second Lt. Andrew Baez, the spokesperson for the 3rd Marine Air Wing, said in a phone interview on Wednesday that the addition of a second squadron of F-35Cs is part of the Marine Corps’ aviation plan, which was made public last year.
“The plan prioritizes preparedness, reinforces the importance of flying from the sea, and focuses on manpower, logistics support, and modern capabilities,” the Marine Corps said in a May news release.
According to the statement, the aviation plan supports the global effort to modernize the service called Force Design 2030. The purpose of the evaluation is to refocus the Corps’ attention from the ground combat experienced over the course of two decades in Afghanistan to the naval and air combat that would be encountered in a battle with China in the Indo-Pacific.
“The F-35C brings a long-range fighter/strike platform with the most advanced stealth and sensor capabilities in the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Michael Fisher, who will assume command of 311 Squadron on Friday, in a statement. Emailed on Wednesday. “The Harrier was a great weapon that served the Marine Corps well and has been superseded by a more advanced and capable platform. The F-35 was designed for near-term combat and for the future.”
The reactivated squadron has a heritage dating back to World War II when it was established on December 1, 1942, as Marine Fighter Squadron 311. It deployed to the Pacific in the spring of 1943, flying F4U-1 Corsair fighters.
Their last missions during World War II were dive bombing and patrols during the Battle of Okinawa in early 1945.
The squadron began flying jet aircraft in 1948, flying the first jet fighter missions for the Corps during the Korean War.
The squadron flew A-4 fighters during the Vietnam War, which lasted nearly a decade. In the early 1990s, during Operation Desert Shield, this Marine Corps squadron was the first to deploy AV-8 Harriers to a combat zone. The squadron participated in a large number of combat sorties over Afghanistan and Iraq.