The Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) became one of the few ships in the fleet to trap and launch the F-35C Lightning II, Sept. 3.
The “Grim Reapers” of Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA 101), from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, are the training squadron for the F-35C.
“The F-35C is still in a testing phase, so it is not fully operational yet,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Karapostoles, a pilot assigned to VFA 101.
“We are the training squadron for the F-35C, so we are onboard this ship conducting our carrier qualification training, qualifying pilots, landing signal officers and maintenance crews.”
(See F-35C Carrier Variants of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter conduct flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) on August 14, 2016. Courtesy of US Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anna Van Nuys, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Price & Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brian Sipe)
The launching and recovering of the F-35Cs presented an opportunity for the crew of Abraham Lincoln to work with a new aircraft and play a role in the development of this new fighter jet.
“Being part of the primary flight control team for the landing and launching of the F-35Cs was such a unique experience,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Mariana Monima.
“The F-35Cs are so amazing and powerful. I feel privileged to have been a part of this historic event.”
According to the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force, the F-35C should reach its initial operational capacity in 2018.
“I love the F-35C,” said Karapostoles.
“Compared to other jets it’s more powerful and really just a beast. Some of the controls are different, which can take a little bit of getting used to, but that’s what we have training like this for.”
According to the Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration Office, the F-35C will introduce next generation strike-fighter aircraft capabilities to the Navy Carrier Air Wings, enabling the Carrier Strike Groups and numbered fleets to effectively engage and survive a wide range of rapidly evolving threats.
Abraham Lincoln is underway conducting training after successful completion of carrier incremental availability.
(The F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) completed its second F-35C developmental test (DT-II) phase Oct. 10, 2015. DT-II was conducted aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). During the tests, the team completed 66 catapults and 66 arrestments across 17 flights, logged 26.5 flight hours and achieved a total of 280 flight test points and 17 logistics test and evaluation test points. The testing was completed six days ahead of schedule. Courtesy of Lockheed Martin and YouTube)
The 5th Generation F-35C Lightning II is the only fighter that can respond to tomorrow’s threats and preserve the U.S. Navy’s maritime supremacy.
Our naval aviators deserve nothing less than the most advanced capabilities to ensure they are able to perform their missions and return home safely.
More than 50 years of aircraft carrier-based fighter evolution culminates in the F-35C. Never before has low observable stealth been available at sea.
The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the world’s only 5th Generation, long-range stealth strike fighter designed and built explicitly for carrier operations.
The U.S. Navy is the largest customer receiving F-35Cs, with the U.S. Marine Corps also planning to acquire the C variant in addition to the F-35B.
The F-35C combines this unique capability of operating from a carrier deck with the unmatched 5th Generation capabilities of stealth, fused sensors and reliability, making the F-35C the Navy’s future first-day-of-the-war strike fighter.
The Navy and Marines require an aircraft capable of overcoming a variety of threats — surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles and tactical aircraft.
By leveraging this potent combination of stealth, advanced jamming and threat system destruction, the F-35C enhances survivability and increases mission success rates.
The F-35C variant has larger wings and more robust landing gear than the other variants, making it suitable for catapult launches and fly-in arrestments aboard naval aircraft carriers.
Its wingtips also fold to allow for more room on the carrier’s deck while deployed.
Additionally, the F-35C also has the greatest internal fuel capacity of the three F-35 variants.
The F-35C carries nearly 20,000 pounds of internal fuel for longer range and better persistence than any other fighter in a combat configuration.
And, like the F-35B, the F-35C uses probe and drogue refueling.
This allows the Navy to operate its carriers a safe distance from the threat while its fighters reach remote targets.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.
*Content provided courtesy of Lockheed Martin