MIRAMAR, Calif. (KGTV) - The F-35C landed in Miramar Tuesday, the first of it's kind for the Department of Defense, according to officials at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
UPDATE: Officials later clarified the F-35C arriving at Miramar was the first for the Marine Corps.
There are three versions of the F-35 Lightning II. The F-35C is the "carrier version", the largest of it's kind and able to land on an aircraft carrier's runway.
The fighter jet is the most advanced in the military, "everything you look at is displayed in the helmet, I mean it's like in the movies," Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Cedar Hinton, USMC said.
Hinton is the newest commander of the Black Knight Squadron at MCAS Miramar, who will inherit the incoming F-35Cs.
"This is an exciting time in the Black Knight history. This squadron was stood up in WWII like a lot of squadrons, this particular squadron's able to break a lot of milestones." He mentioned milestones that started in the 1950's with the F-9F Panther. That was the "Navy’s first successful carrier-based jet fighter" and landed with the Black Knights at Miramar.
Then in the 1960's the squadron was the first in the Marine Corps to fly the F-4B Phantom.
In the 1980's they were the first to fly the F/A-18.
The F-35 got it's first test in combat in 2018, deploying to Afghanistan, and then in Iraq a year later.
"They've had some pretty good success with it, I mean it does what we paid for it to do," Lt. Col. Hinton said.
It's record isn't pristine. The jet faced scrutiny when it suffered mechanical failures during development. In 2018, an F-35 crashed in South Carolina.
"I mean single engine airplane, but this engine is by far probably the most advance engine ever built... That engine is more reliable than two engines on an F-18 I'd say," Lt. Col. Hinton said.
Miramar has been waiting for this moment since they retired the F/A-18 Hornet last June.
Miramar will get another F-35C next week, and a third in March. The plan states the air station will get 75 jets over the next 10 years.
"We've got to start working the systems, we have to start integrating it with our software," Hinton said there's a lot of work to do to get the squadron up and running. He said they are working with a Naval squadron based in Lemoore.