First Marine F-35C squadron received Safe-For-Flight Operations Certification

The first VMFA-314 F-35C with the VMFA-314 CAG Hornet. (Image credit: VMFA-314)

VMFA-314 can now operate independently from its new homebase at MCAS Miramar.

The first F-35C squadron of the United States Marine Corps, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, received on March 20, 2020 its Safe-For-Flight Operations Certification (SFFOC) at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar. VMFA-314 reached this milestone after working with the U.S. Navy’s F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, which helped the Marines with the transition from the F/A-18A++ Hornet to the new F-35C Lightning II.

“The ‘Black Knights’ have met or exceeded every challenge faced during this transition, and I am extremely proud to be a part of this fantastic squadron. Today’s achievement marks a significant milestone and the beginning of a new chapter in our storied legacy. The F-35C advances our capability well into the next generation of fighter-attack aircraft and will keep our squadron, and our service, relevant for decades to come”, said Lt. Col. Cedar Hinton, Commanding Officer of VMFA-314.

U.S Marine Corps Lt. Col Cedar L. Hinton, commanding officer of Marine Wing Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) lands VMFA-314’s first F-35C Lightning II on Marine Air Station Miramar, Calif., January 21, 2020. The F-35C will give 3rd MAW a technological advantage by bringing the next wave of 5th generation fighter jets to its arsenal. The F-35C represents the next step in aviation, introducing upgraded internal fuel storage capacity, enhanced stealth capability and the reliability found in other F-35 variants. These capabilities will ensure VMFA-314 is well-equipped to meet the threats of tomorrow. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dominic Romero)

The “Black Knights” trained alongside VFA-125 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Leemore from September 2019 to January 2020. The first F-35C returned at MCAS Miramar, home of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (under which falls the command of VMFA-314) on January 21, marking the arrival of the first F-35C to Fleet Marine Force. With the certification attained, the squadron can now fly and train without the supervision of the FRS. As noted if the official statement, “The SFFOC process ensures the squadron is manned with qualified personnel to implement maintenance and safety programs in support of fleet operations. All transitioning squadrons are required to complete this certification prior to independently conducting flight operations.”

The squadron will now continue to train in preparation for its first deployment at sea, which will be the second ever deployment of the F-35C. The first Lighting II deployment will be performed, as wrote also in previous articles, by the U.S. Navy in 2021 with the “Argonauts” of VFA-147 integrated into the Carrier Air Wing 2, aboard the Nimitz-class USS Carl Vinson.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.