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The Marine Corps’ declaring the F-35 operational shows the program is “on track,” Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Frank Kendall said in a statement Friday. “This achievement is a testament to the efforts of the F-35 Joint Program Office and industry team,” as well as the Marine Corps, he said. It’s an “affirmation” the program is doing well and a “reminder that we still have work ahead” to deliver all the planned aircraft to all three user services and international partners “while we continue our successful efforts to drive cost out of the program” Kendall said. Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, in his own statement, noted that the Marine Corps declared IOC “at the beginning of the six-month window” that was targeted in May 2013. Bogdan said industry, the SPO, and USMC have been working “hand in hand … to achieve that goal.” The system is now “in the warfighter’s hands and can be called upon to do its mission,” he added. The F-35B is the world’s first operational supersonic, short takeoff/vertical landing stealth fighter able to operate from ships and austere bases, Bogdan said. “It took an entire team effort to deliver the combat capability of the F-35B, and today we’ve done it.”