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Marine, Navy Exercise Off San Diego Coast Debuts F-35

A Marine version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter hovers over the deck of the...

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Above: A Marine version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter hovers over the deck of the USS Essex, Oct. 23, 2017.

Dawn Blitz trains Marines for amphibious landings but it is also a chance for Navy and Marines to test new skills.

The Marines and Navy are conducting massive exercises off the coast of San Diego this week.

Dawn Blitz is a training exercise for Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. It is also a field test for the Navy and Marine Corps. This year they are testing the Marine version of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“It is an immensely capable aircraft and that is the shortest way you can put it. The ability to deploy it from here and to take off and land vertically. To have multi-mission capabilities. It’s an incredible aircraft,” said Rear Adm. Cathal O’Connor.

The F-35 is one of the most expensive military programs in U.S. history. The USS Essex, is one of the first ships to be retrofitted to launch the new plane for the Marines. The amphibious assault ship is taking part in the exercise.

Monday the ship was launching helicopters and Osprey, along with the F-35, as part of a simulated landing on San Clemente Island. Friday, the Marines will stage a simulated assault on Red Beach at Camp Pendleton.

In this exercise the Navy and Marines are also experimenting with sharing command. Roughly 1,400 marines and 2,200 sailors on four ships are taking part in Dawn Blitz.

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