The tip of the spear for the future of Naval Aviation
Just north of the white sandy beaches of the Emerald Coast of Florida's panhandle, a group of Sailors are working hand-in-hand with technical expert civilians to bring the Navy's fifth-generation fighter to the fleet.
It's the home of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and JSF partner nations; known as F-35 country.
Co-located at Eglin Air Force Base, the skies over the Gulf Coast and Fort Walton area are often filled with a thundering scene of all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II. Though the JSF program's three variants were designed with each service's specific needs in mind, the Lightning II was built to be a first-day-of-the-war aircraft, bringing stealth capability in a highly agile, supersonic aircraft that gives the pilot a level of situational awareness never seen before.
The squadron given the responsibility to bring this aircraft to the fleet is VFA-101, the Grim Reapers. Re-activated in May 2012 as a U.S. Navy Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), the Grim Reapers have been given the opportunity to bring a new aircraft online.