Rolls-Royce recently helped a key customer celebrate an historic milestone.
Senior leaders from the Defense branch were part of a contingent of industry leaders who joined distinguished military and political leaders on Nov. 20 when the United States Marine Corps ushered in a new era in aviation. The arrival of the first F-35B, powered in part by the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem, occurred at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.
“I ask you to buckle down your seat belts and snug your harness up nice and tight, because you are about to take a ride of a lifetime in a great airplane at an important point in America's history,” the Yuma Sun newspaper quoted Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos, who was on hand for the event in Yuma.
“The squadron has been on the forefront of Marine aviation for some time,” Amos said, “and I know they are more than worthy of the challenge we now place in front of them.”
The arrival of the aircraft was timed to coincide with a squadron re-designation ceremony held at MCAS Yuma. The Green Knights of Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121, formerly an F/A-18 Hornet squadron from MCAS Miramar, was re-designated as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121.
As the home of the first operational squadron of F-35 fighters in the nation, MCAS Yuma is slated to receive five squadrons each with 16 aircraft as well as one operational test and evaluation squadron of eight aircraft. These 88 aircraft will take the place of Yuma's four existing squadrons of the Rolls-Royce powered AV-8B Harriers .
Serving on the forefront is familiar territory to the squadron, which Amos said is one of the longest-serving squadrons in the country. It was formed in June 1941, a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Throughout its storied history the squadron has flown several different types of aircraft, before receiving the Marine Corps' very first F-18 Hornet in 1989.
“The legacy of this squadron is long and distinguished, having deployed in support of every major combat operation this nation has ever been involved in since 1941,” Amos said. “The Marines of today are sitting at the cutting edge of aviation history of our great country.”