F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters
Two F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters complete vertical landings aboard the USS Wasp (LHD-1)

The US Marine Corps said Tuesday it has sent a squadron of F-35B fighter jets to Japan, marking the first operational overseas deployment for the controversial aircraft that is under scrutiny from President-elect Donald Trump.

The deployment of the 10 planes to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Honshu Island marks a major milestone for the F-35, which has been bedeviled by technical glitches and soaring cost overruns.

With a current development and acquisition price tag already at $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the most expensive plane in history, and costs are set to go higher still.

The Marines’s version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings.

Trump last month sent shockwaves through the aerospace industry when he tweeted that he wanted rival Boeing to price out a possible alternative.

“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted December 22.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet does not have stealth capabilities and has been in use since the late 1990s.

Once servicing, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s lifespan through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion.

Proponents of the F-35 tout its speed, close air-support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information.

“The unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar and sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems bring all of the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter, a modern bomber, and an adverse-weather, all-threat environment air-support platform,” the Marines said in a statement.

In August, the US Air Force declared an initial squadron of F-35A stealth fighters ready for combat and said an overseas deployment for that version of the plane was likely early this year.

The US Navy’s version of the plane, the F-35C, is built to land on aircraft carriers.

  • Timoteo Tufuga

    Whilst the first operational deployment is within striking proximity to the South China Sea, in Syria, the Russians have deployed their most effective airspace dominance multirole fighter aircraft the SU35 for military operations in a more imminent confrontational stance with the RAAF FA18, the Turkish and Israeli F16 and other American aircraft.

    Meanwhile, somewhat dormant, for the time being, there is the Donbass region conflict, in Ukraine, whereby, the NATO forces on a near DEFCON five, making this Trump era very delicate.

  • Blue Gum

    Watch the documentary about the F35 and the Boeing fighter competing for the defense contract and it is easy to see that some shady stuff went down in the background that caused the F35 to win.

    • Brad

      The Boeing plane failed badly, It never did go Mach 1 in the test as described. The F35 is awesome

  • BatoStone

    Japan's Hyuga class helicopter can accommodate the F-35B fighter plane and can be converted in to a real aircraft carrier.

    After the delivery of Japan's F-35A order then theF-35B variant is next be acquired.