F-35B BuNo 168168 operated by VMFA-121 departs from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) during flight operations on February 3. The Lightning II is carrying a full load of four 500lb (227kg) GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on its external wing stations. US Navy/MC2 Sarah Myers

F-35BS OPERATED BY Marine fighter attack squadron VMFA-121 ‘Green Knights’ have carried out the first fleet unit level air strikes with externally carried ordnance during training sorties. The Lightning IIs were operating from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) over the Philippine and East China Seas while deployed with Marine medium tilt-rotor squadron VMM-262 as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The training took place between January 26 and February 6, and missions included the delivery of inert and live ordnance carried on the fighter’s underwing pylons and internal weapons bays in socalled ‘beast mode’. The weapons included CATM-9X air-to-air training missiles, 500lb (227kg) GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, and 1,000lb (454kg) GBU-32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs).

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