It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a F35B fighter jet

Updated: Jul. 22, 2018 at 7:33 PM HST
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OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fighter jets aren't unusual on Oahu, but if you've seen them flying around in the past few days, you may have spotted a new "bird" in the sky.

For the first time in Hawaii, Marines and sailors are training with the F35B Lightning II. The newest fighter jet, which can take off and land vertically, didn't join the fleet without some controversy.

Despite a long list of setbacks including problems with software, engines and weapon systems, the new war machine is in the field.

Lt. Col. Kyle Shoop is commanding officer for the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211. He spoke about the jet's capabilities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam.

"This airplane is replacing the F18, the Harrier, and the EA6B Prowler for the Marine Corps," said Shoop.

Built by Lockheed Martin the F35 has three variations: the "A" model used in the Air Force, the "C" model used by the Navy and the "B" model designed for the Marines.

The Wall Street Journal reports the cost to produce each jet has more than doubled from the original estimate.The U.S. will pay more than $400 billion to buy 2,400 jets over the next 20 years.

But the Marines deployed here can't focus on any controversy surrounding the cost.

What they can do is work to get the most out of this new tool. The F35B is outfitted with medium range and short range missles as well as some GPS guided bombs.

"With fifth-generation capabilities it makes it low observable stealth, and gives us access to coastlines that we wouldn't normally have," added Lt. Col. Shoop.

His squadron is also training with F22 Raptor pilots in the Hawaii Air National Guard marking the end of a six month pre-deployment training cycle.

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