Washington, DC – The Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus co-chairs, Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12) and Congressman Norm Dicks (WA-6), released the following statement after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced he is lifting probation on the F-35B STOVL variant:

“This is an important day for the Joint Strike Fighter Program.  By announcing that he is lifting the probation on the F-35B a year earlier than expected, Secretary Panetta is officially recognizing the significant progress the STOVL variant has made since it was put on probation a year ago by Secretary Gates.  We also want to recognize the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, for his leadership on the program.  F-35B performed exceedingly well in flight tests in 2011 and the issues that led to the probation status are all on track to be fixed.  The F-35B is critical to our nation’s future ability to project power and this is a hard earned achievement for the military and industry professionals who have been working tireless to deliver this revolutionary capability to the US Marine Corps and our allies.” 

The F-35B STOVL variant is a revolutionary stealth fighter capable of  taking off and landing vertically and operating from amphibious assault ships. The F-35B will replace the Marine Corps’ current aging fighter fleet, providing them with a stealth fighter for the first time capable of meeting the future threats facing our nation.