Did Pax River’s Facebook Just Reveal F-35 Deployment? [UPDATE: Probably Not]

The F-35C breaks away from formation prior to landing. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Karen Roganov, 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs )

The F-35C breaks away from formation prior to landing. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Karen Roganov, 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs )

If four F-35B jets make it to Farnborough International Airshow this week, we’ll have had a little heads up thanks to a post by whomever managed the Facebook account for Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Below is a screengrab of a post on the base’s official Facebook page. The post in question was a note saying the four jets remain ready to take off in hopes of making it to Farnborough for the airshow this week. Now, where it gets interesting is in the comments.

A user named “Roland Curtis” asks “Have they got the green light for transit yet,” to which the Pax River account responds “slated to leave Tuesday morning.”

Check it out for yourself:

F35_Facebook copy

(H/T to Steve Trimble of Flight for catching this)

Obviously this would be huge news, and a shockingly bizarre way for the news to come out. But organizers and supporters of the plane will take it if it turns out to be true and not an errant comment. We’ll know more soon — Pentagon acquisition head Frank Kendall is slated to speak at 11 GMT on the plane.

The entire F-35 fleet has been grounded since July 3, the result of an ongoing investigation into what caused an F-35A model to catch on fire June 23.

Keep an eye on DefenseNews.com for more of our Farnborough coverage!

UPDATE 3:29 GMT:

Defense News asked Kendall and Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, about the Facebook post. Both men seemed surprised by the news, and after a little back and forth Kendall was asked whether a flight plan has been filed. His response: “I don’t think anyone up here is aware that there is.”

“I didn’t know Facebook was official,” Bogdan chimed in laughing, after noting that the Marines are standing by ready if they get the word to go.

“The US Marine Corps and United Kingdom are sitting perched ready to bring those airplanes as soon as the safety authorities allow them,” he said.

As for Pax River itself, an hour ago, the original post appears to have been deleted, and the Facebook page was updated with the following message:

paxFacebook2 copy

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta

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