Bogue field has been buzzing with air tests this month, as the newest fighter jet, the F-35B Lightning II, is tested for take-off and landing through February.

Protecting the land, sea and air is a big responsibility, especially for aviation Marines.

To keep that promise, aircraft must measure up, so Marines at Bogue Field are performing extensive aircraft testing on their fifth-generation fighter jet, the F-35B Lightning II.

Training, which will continue until late-February, includes a series of over 200 test points.

According to Maj. Michael Lippert of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23), the points measure performance at specific altitudes, temperatures and wind conditions.

According to a press release from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry point, the test aims to expand the expeditionary envelope and finish the system development and demonstration phase for the F-35B.

Bob Nantz, a technical specialist for the integrated task force in Tuskigee, Maryland, said the air field is designed with four different slope pads to make the testing process a little easier.

“We want to find out how much slope we can handle,” Nantz said.

To adjust the slope of the landing pads, Mike Barton, communications officer for MCAS Cherry Point, said the pieces of the pads are rotated.

“Each pad has the same slope but gets clocked 90 degrees based on temperature and wind conditions,” Barton said.

The flight tests include Short Take-off Vertical Landing tests, or STOVL, which can be adjusted to mimic real-world conditions.

“We’re testing not only operations for F-35 aircraft on certain slopes, but our Marines are able to build different level fields and airfield systems to ensure we’re supporting the future of Marine Corps aviation,” Gunnery Sgt. Julio Silva said.

The jet itself is special because it’s so adaptable. Small and quiet compared to some military aircraft, like helicopters, it can be used off-shore and on-shore. Its landing capabilities make it operatable almost anywhere, runway or not.

Although the F-35B is new to the Marine Corps, Lippert said this month’s tests are expanding on previous tests.

“It’s the first time this kind of testing has been performed to this level,” Lippert said.

The unique design of the field and the fact its operated in-house makes that possible, he added.

The field itself includes four different landing pads, each made up of special interlocking aluminum matting (AM2), which makes it portable.

The landing pads are similar to Marine expeditionary runway matting, used to land planes when a portable runway is needed.

“Basically you can point anywhere on the globe and say ‘I want an airfield here,’” Silva said.

Assembling it, though, is a laborious process.

Silva said it took close to two months for Marines to construct the landing pads at Bogue Field, which span over 60,000 square feet altogether.

“I wish I could say we have some fancy machine, but it’s really just a bunch of young, angry Marines who have to install this,” Silva joked.


Reporter Kelsey Stiglitz can be reached at 910-219-8453 or