WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the following statement after the U.S. Marine Corps announcement that the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter has reached initial operational readiness:

"The Marine Corps’ announcement today is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the employees at Pratt & Whitney and the other small Connecticut businesses who took part in producing the most advanced aircraft in the world. Their success sends a strong statement about Connecticut’s unmatched contribution to America’s national security, and is an important reminder of the bright future in store for our aerospace industry and the highly skilled workforce that supports it.”

This is the first version of the F-35 to reach initial operational readiness. The F-35 program is a multi-service effort to buy 2,457 total aircraft that will become the mainstay of the U.S. military multirole fighters for the next half a decade. The Marine Corps plans to buy 353 F-35Bs, the short-takeoff-and vertical-landing versions that fly like a plane and land like a helicopter. The U.S. Air Force plans to declare its’ variant, the F-35A initial operational readiness in 2016; and the U.S. Navy plans to declare its’ variant, the F-35C initial operational readiness in 2019. The engine that powers the F-35, the F-135, is assembled by Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut.