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Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II simulated defensive combat air patrol with live AIM-9X missile

PACIFIC OCEAN
Story by Capt. George McArthur
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

Ordnance Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, load an AIM- 9X Sidewinder missile onto an F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft prior to a defensive combat air patrol rehearsal aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Pacific Ocean, August 7, 2019. Wasp, flagship of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group, with embarked 31st MEU, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as ready-response force for any type of contingency, while simultaneously providing a flexible and lethal crisis response force ready to perform a wide range of military operations. (Official U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Luis Velez)

USS Wasp, At Sea – Marine fighter pilots with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) to rehearse Combat Air Patrol missions with the F-35B Lightning II, carrying and employing a live AIM-9X Sidewinder, Pacific Ocean, August 7, 2019.


This execution marked the first operational F-35B live-fire of the AIM-9X missile in the Indo-Pacific region while conducting blue-water flight operations. The rehearsal was in conjunction with the hot reload of ordnance including GBU-12 Paveway II Laser-Guided Bombs and GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 25-mm ammunition with a GAU-22 cannon.


The air-to-air missile drill validated weapons assembly and loading procedures on the flight deck of the ship and showcased the F-35B’s flexibility to offensively engage airborne targets. The missile targeted and successfully engaged LUU-2 flares dispensed out of an MV-22B Osprey during flight operations, according to Maj. Jeffrey Davis, F-35B detachment officer-in-charge with VMM-265 (REIN).


“The 31st MEU regularly conducts F-35B Combat Air Patrol rehearsals and is fully prepared to maintain aerial dominance against any threat,” said Col. Robert Brodie, 31st MEU commanding officer. “Our successful live-fire employment of the AIM-9X further exemplifies our preparedness to ‘fight and win’ against any adversary in any arena.”

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