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F-35Bs join Middle East operations

Photo: A VMFA-211 F-35B aboard USS Essex (LHD 2), embarked 13th MEU, now in the 5th Fleet area of operations iUSMC/Cpl A. J. Van Fredenberg


US Marine Corps F-35Bs of VMFA-211 ‘Avengers’, embarked with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) are operating with US Central Command for the first time.

The USS Essex is now in the 5th fleet area of operations, which covers the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean. It’s the first time the F-35B has operated in this region and the ship and embarked MEU is scheduled to join a two-week Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal (TACR) shortly.

VMFA-211 embarked the ship after it departed San Diego on July 10 along with the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), which make up the Essex Amphibious Ready Group. The Lightning IIs, are attached to the reinforced Marine medium tilt-rotor squadron VMM-166 (R).

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