F-35B Expeditionary Basing and the Pacific

By Robbin Laird

The United States and its core allies are in the process of shaping a distributed but integrated force.

The F-35 provides significant capabilities for such an effort.

And with the Japanese, the South Koreans and the Singaporeans all acquiring the B variant basing flexibility is enhanced as well.

With the Marines bringing the B to the region some time ago, the U.S. allies are all familiar with the flexibility demonstrated by the Marine Corps team.

Recently, the Marines exercised with the Singaporeans and brought their operational experience into their direct working efforts.

As a recent 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit story put it:

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked aboard the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group conducted flight-training operations near Singapore within international waters, April 8.

During these operations, U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164, 15th MEU also conducted joint training with F-15SG and F-16D multi-role fighter jets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

“It’s a professional privilege to work and fly with our longstanding partners from the Republic of Singapore while operating in the southern reaches of the South China Sea,” Maj. Benjamin Boera, F-35B Detachment future operations officer.

“Flying alongside pilots with the RSAF is a great experience for us all and helps further promote the F-35B’s 5th-generation capabilities, while reinforcing our support and commitment to all partner nations in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Conducting maritime-based engagements with partner nations provides a unique capability to learn and understand each partner’s skills, prepare for real-world operations and further strengthen the longstanding relationships between countries and militaries.

“These operations highlight both the capabilities of our fifth generation aircraft and our interoperability with the Republic of Singapore, a deeply valued partner,” said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “The F-35B has been a game-changer in this theater, and I’m grateful for the flexibility and lethality that the entire USS Makin Island/15th MEU team provides our combatant commanders as we contribute to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The Makin Island ARG and embarked 15th MEU is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.