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Marines receive first F-35B fighter jets


A Lockheed F-35B fighter arrived at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., last week, the first of 15 jets that will comprise the new Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. So far only two Marine pilots have been trained to fly the jet, which is expected to start training missions by the end of this year. It’s a big step for a Pentagon program that has soared billions of dollars over budget and has been dogged by years of development delays. The Marine variant of the F-35 is the most complex of the three versions of the fighter, since it has unique short-field takeoff capabilities and can land vertically. The F-35 is eventually expected to replace the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jets, which were both developed more than 20 years ago. The F-35 program has cost about $385 billion over the last decade, which is 65 percent more than the development program was originally budgeted.