F35 aircraft

The US Navy’s F-35C Lightning II carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has successfully completed the first-of-its-kind arrested-landing on the navy aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz (CVN 68), off the San Diego coast.

The latest move forms part of a two-week initial at-sea developmental testing I (DT-I) for the Lockheed Martin built-F-35C.

US Navy test pilot commander Tony Wilson said: "Today is a landmark event in the development of the F-35C.

"It is the culmination of many years of hard work by a talented team of thousands."

As part of the first of three at-sea test phases scheduled for the F-35C, the test team from the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) will perform a range of operational manoeuvres on two F-35C test aircraft such as several catapult takeoffs and arrested landings.

Furthermore, the assessments involve general maintenance, fitness tests and support equipment, in addition to simulated maintenance operations.

F-35 programme executive officer lieutenant general Chris Bogdan said: "This will be one landing out of thousands more that will happen over the next few decades.

"For months, we’ve been working with the Nimitz crew, Naval Air Forces, and our industry partners, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, as well as their suppliers, to prepare and train for this event.

"We plan on learning a lot during this developmental test and will use that knowledge to make the naval variant of the F-35 an even more effective weapons platform."

Powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F-135 engine, the multirole F-35C JSF will offer long-range detection and precision targeting through its electro-optical targeting system.

By 2025, the navy’s aircraft carrier-based air wings will comprise a blend 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 onboard delivery logistics aircraft.

With the US Navy yet to declare its F-35 jets ready for combat deployment, the Marine Corps and Air Force have target dates of July 2015 and August 2016, respectively.

Image: An F-35C JSF on its first arrested-landing on the USS Nimitz. Photo: courtesy of mass communication specialist 3rd class Kelly M. Agee.

Defence Technology