In one of his final efforts as commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph Dunford is working to ensure the Marines' new joint strike fighter achieves its full potential.
Dunford said the F-35B, set to reach initial operational capability for the Marine Corps this summer, had the power to transform Marine operations beyond its function as a cutting-edge new aircraft. He made the comments in a speech at a Washington event hosted by the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus.
By this fall, Dunford said, a Marine general and a Navy flag officer would convene to form a working group with subject-matter experts to explore ways the fighter could better help the Corps to project power from the sea and to collaborate with Navy counterparts.
This effort fits into a larger initiative Dunford announced last month aimed at modernizing the ground combat elements of the Marine air-ground task force, harnessing available aviation technologies and applying lessons learned from the past decade-and-a-half at war. The Marines had invested heavily in their aviation assets over the past decade, developing the revolutionary MV-22B Osprey and now the F-35, Dunford said, but until recently had not examined ways to use the platforms to improve the whole force.
"How do we take MAGTF and move it forward so we actually fully leverage the transformational capabilities of the F-35 and the V-22," Dunford said. "That's going to fundamentally change equipment, it's going to change tactics, it's going to change our organizational construct."