TIME Military

New F-35 Fighter Jets Are Ready for Combat

The Joint Strike Fighter F-35 is undergoing flight tests and evaluations at Naval Air Station  Patuxent River, Md
Jonathan Newton—The Washington Post/Getty Images U.S. Marine Corps test pilot Maj. Richard Rusnok goes over his pre-flight check list in the cockpit of the F-35B Lightning II aircraft BF-4p prior to a test flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on March 7, 2013 in Patuxent, MD

Years of delay and cost overruns overshadow announcement

The U.S. Marine Corps declared a new squadron of F-35 fighter jets ready for deployment on Friday, yielding the first shipment from a controversial $400 billion fighter program that has struggled through years of costly delays.

A squadron of 10 F-35B Lightning II aircraft passed a final round of inspections on July 18, according to a statement by the U.S. Marine Corps.

“The F-35B’s ability to conduct operations from expeditionary airstrips or sea-based carriers provides our Nation with its first 5th generation strike fighter, which will transform the way we fight and win,” Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford said in a public statement. More than 50 pilots and 500 maintenance crew members have been trained on the newest variant of F-35 fighter jet.

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