Three U.S. have taken off from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, en route to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, ahead of their planned Atlantic Ocean crossing to the United Kingdom.
Four F-35Bs are expected to be in country by the week of July 7 for flying displays at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough air show next month.
"The Marine Corps will resume F-35B flight operations today. We are continuing with our plans to deploy to the U.K. next month," said Capt. Rich Ulsh, a Marine Corps spokesman.
This signals at least a partial resumption of flight for the F-35 fleet; 95 F-35s have been down for a "safety pause" after the aft end of an F-35A, AF-27, erupted into fire on the runway at Eglin AFB, Florida, prior to takeoff June 23. The pilot safely egressed, and investigators are trying to find the root cause.
F-35As operated by the Air Force and Cs operated by the Navy have not yet been cleared to fly, according to spokeswomen at the respective services.
Ulsh declined to say whether the resumption of flight operations signaled that the B was exonerated from concerns related to the fire. But the earlier stand down was conducted in the interest of flight safety.
It is unclear whether the flight operations approved for the F-35B are exclusive only to the aircraft transiting to Patuxent River.
The first flight window for the Atlantic crossing is slated to be June 29. However, technically, the F-35Bs do not have to be in the United Kingdom until the week of July 7 when pilots must conduct their verification flights ahead of the show displays.