COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is on track with preparations for the June arrival of its first F-35 fighter jets and pilots.

Marine Air Group 31 commander Col. Bill Leiblien told the South Carolina Military Base Task Force Wednesday the first hangar built for the futuristic jet is nearing completion.

Leiblien says that by Oct. 1, the Air Station expects to have its flying and training operations underway.

There will be between 70 to 88 F-35s at Beaufort making up two training squadrons and three operational squadrons.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the next-generation of air warfare for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. Military officials expect it to be based at Beaufort as well as Shaw Air Force Base in central South Carolina.

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