USS WASP, At sea -- Marines with various units worked together to accomplish an ordnance
load and unload on the F-35B Lightning II as the first operational test
of the aircraft winds down aboard USS Wasp May 27, 2015.
For the past two weeks, Marines and sailors have been working together
to assess the integration of the F-35B into amphibious operations.
The ordnance exercise gave the Marines the opportunity to verify data
and put their skills to the ultimate test by performing an ordnance load
and unload of the F-35B in night conditions aboard an amphibious vessel
in standard sea conditions. This was the first time for both the
Marines and aircraft.
“The purpose of the mission last night was to load the Guided Bomb Unit
12, Guided Bomb Unit 32, and AIM-120 [Advanced Medium Range AIR-to-AIR
Missile],” said Gunnery Sgt. Casey Gort, the ordnance chief with Marine
Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22. “It was ultimately an
opportunity to check the suitability of us actually loading that
aircraft at night.”
Over the course of four hours, as USS Wasp pitched and rolled in the
darkness, the Marines loaded and unloaded all three types of ordnance
into and out of the aircraft, testing both their knowledge and teamwork.
“When you do something at night, there are going to be more inherent
dangers,” said Gort. “There are more variables that you have to watch
out for simply because it’s dark and you are losing a sense. We wanted
to see if we ran into any other problems and safety concerns at night
that we didn’t during the day time.”
With so many moving parts in the low-light environment, communication was the key to success, according to Gort.
“Since your sight is limited, you have to be very verbal,” said Gort.
“Typically when we do this, we have daylight and use hand and arm
signals. At night, you can’t do that. It wasn’t necessarily all that
much harder; it was just different.”
In addition to working together to accomplish a task in a night
environment aboard an amphibious vessel, the Marines also worked with
new gear they had been unfamiliar with prior to the exercise.
“We had some new gear on board that we’d never dealt with before,” said
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Beard, the ordnance officer for Marine
Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine
Aircraft Wing. “Throughout OT-1, we’ve been trying to integrate with the
ship to see if any of this new equipment is different from a legacy
Overall, the evolution left the Marines with pride in their
accomplishment and increased knowledge on the F-35B and its
capabilities, according to Gort.
“Last night, we were making suggestions and giving our input,” said
Gort. “We are taking a lot of pride in the fact that the information we
provide could shape the future of F-35B ordnance. The payoff with
something like that is amazing.”
The data collected from OT-1 will be laying the foundation for the
Marine Corps’ F-35B initial operational capability declaration this
summer, and future F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious