The US Navy's F-35C Lightning II carrier-variant joint strike fighter (JSF) has successfully completed its maiden night-flight on USS Nimitz (CVN 68), off the San Diego coast.
Being tested as part of a two-week initial at-sea developmental testing I (DT-I), two aircraft have already complied with 95% of the requirements for the first of three at-sea test phases scheduled for the F-35C, further validating their reliability and performance.
Reuters quoted the F-35 programme office as saying that the jets had completed more than 101 catapult takeoffs, 214 planned 'touch and go' landings and 104 arrested-landings through a redesigned tailhook on the USS Nimitz.
The latest test follows the successful completion of the F-35C's first-of-its-kind arrested-landing on the navy aircraft carrier earlier this month.
In addition, the assessments include general maintenance, fitness analysis and support equipment, as well as simulated maintenance operations.
Two more sea-based assessments are scheduled in 2015 and 2016 prior to initial combat use in 2018.
The Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine-powered multirole F-35C JSF aims to provide long-range detection and precision targeting through its electro-optical targeting system.
By 2025, the navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will include a mix of F-35C, F / A-18E / F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R / S helicopters and carrier on-board delivery logistics aircraft.
The US Navy is yet to decide if F-35 jets are ready for combat deployment, while the Marine Corps and air force have set it for launch by July 2015 and August 2016, respectively.
Image: Lockheed Martin's F-35C JSF during its first arrested-landing. Photo: courtesy of mass communication specialist 3rd class Kelly M. Agee.