The pace at which the Marine Corps is getting its new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is “anemic,” the service’s head of aviation said this week, adding that the Corps could handle a much faster ramp-up.By the way, those are really small squadrons. Standard squadron strength used to be 24 aircraft plus spares. It is down to 16 planes for F-35 equipped squadrons now. If you want to plow through some really boring minutiae from the government about Marine air, it's here. Lt. Gen. Davis seems to really want more F-35s, faster:
Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy commandant of aviation, spoke highly of the Corps’ new fifth-generation aircraft. The first Marine F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, relocated to Japan in January in a transition that Davis said was smooth and without incident.
Right now, he said, the Marine Corps owns 50 F-35Bs in two operational squadrons, one training squadron, and a test unit. The service declared initial operational capability for the aircraft in 2015.
Davis said he believes the Corps could accept up to 37 aircraft a year, between two and three squadrons’ worth. The current transition plan has the service receiving the last of the 353 F-35B and 67 F-35C aircraft it plans to buy in 2031, a rate that works out to fewer than 30 aircraft a year. The sped-up plan would see the Marine Corps complete its F-35 transition five years early.The current schedule seems to keep planes like the AV-8B, Harrier (a vertical take-off and landing fighter), the FA-18 Hornet (a carrier-based fighter) and the EA-6B Prowler, an electronic-warfare aircraft that uses the Vietnam-era airframe of the A-6 Intruder carrier-based fighter, in service for a long damn time. The F-35 in its many variants is supposed to replace all of these aircraft, some of which, obviously, are more than 50 years old. More F-35s faster is a good idea in that respect. Also, the unit cost goes down the faster the planes are produced because of economies of scale.
Whether that happens remains to be seen. I wouldn't bet on it though.