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Navy F-35C Squadron Deactivated at Eglin

A U.S. Navy Sailor marshals out the last VFA-101 F-35C Lightning II to depart Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019.

A U.S. Navy Sailor marshals out the last VFA-101 F-35C Lightning II to depart Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019. After seven years, U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, aka the “Grim Reapers” deactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 23, 2019, and assets were consolidated to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

A U.S. Navy Sailor smiles during the preflight inspection of VFA-101's last F-35C Lightning II to depart Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019.

A U.S. Navy Sailor smiles during the preflight inspection of VFA-101's last F-35C Lightning II to depart Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019. After seven years, U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, aka the “Grim Reapers” deactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 23, 2019, and assets were consolidated to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Cassidy Woody)

Two U.S. Navy pilots walk to the fly out VFA-101's last F-35C Lightning II to depart Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019.

Two U.S. Navy pilots walk to the fly out VFA-101's last F-35C Lightning II to depart Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019. After seven years, U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, aka the “Grim Reapers” deactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 23, 2019, and assets were consolidated to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Cassidy Woody)

U.S. Navy leadership listens to the VFA-101 deactivation ceremony speaker Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019.

U.S. Navy leadership listens to the VFA-101 deactivation ceremony speaker Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019. After seven years, U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, aka the “Grim Reapers” deactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 23, 2019, and assets were consolidated to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

U.S. Navy Sailors welcome leadership to the VFA-101 deactivation ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019.

U.S. Navy Sailors welcome leadership to the VFA-101 deactivation ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 23, 2019. After seven years, U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, aka the “Grim Reapers” deactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 23, 2019, and assets were consolidated to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA --

After seven years, U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, aka the “Grim Reapers” deactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 23, 2019, and assets were consolidated to Naval Air Station Lemoore, California.

All of the F-35C aircraft relocated to NAS Lemoore, and personnel will be split between NAS Lemoore and Edwards AFB, California. VFA-101 was deactivated to become part of VFA-125, a strike fighter squadron at NAS Lemoore. This allows the Navy to focus on getting the fifth-generation fighter jet out to sea.

“When we assessed the requirements to establish and mature the F-35C community, NAS Lemoore was the right place to home-base our Sailors and aircraft,” said Joint Strike Fighter Wing Commodore, Capt. Max McCoy.  “Consolidating resources enables leadership to better support Fleet Replacement Squadron training and operational squadron transitions, both for the Navy and Marine Corps.”

In the Navy, deactivation is different from decommissioning and it’s possible that the “Grim Reapers” squadron could be reactivated in the future. The ceremony marked the third time that VFA-101 has been deactivated.

The last F-35C departed Eglin on Thursday afternoon following the ceremony.

“The USN played in integral role in the 33d Fighter Wing’s transition to the F-35 mission, and we remain grateful for having them as joint partners.  While the dynamic of the wing will not quite be the same without them, we’re excited to watch the Navy rapidly develop their F-35 program,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Moga, 33 FW commander. “I know they’ll continue to make headway in their training operations out at Lemoore.”