The US Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) has conducted at-sea F-35C Lightning II multirole fighter jet testing aboard its flight deck.
The Grim Reapers of the Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA 101) from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, acted as the training squadron for the F-35C trials.
VFA 101 pilot lieutenant commander Chris Karapostoles said: “The F-35C is still in a testing phase, so it is not fully operational yet.
“We are the training squadron for the F-35C, so we are on-board this ship conducting our carrier qualification training, qualifying pilots, landing signal officers and maintenance crews.”
The launch and recovery of the F-35Cs at sea enabled the USS Abraham Lincoln's crew to work with a new fighter jet, while providing useful insight into the aircraft's development.
According to the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force, the US Navy’s F-35C aircraft is expected to reach its initial operational capacity next year.
The Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration Office claims that the multirole fighter jet will introduce the latest and advanced strike-fighter aircraft capabilities to the US Navy Carrier Air Wings.
This will allow the Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and the numbered fleets to effectively engage and survive a broad range of newly evolving threats.
USS Abraham Lincoln is currently conducting training operations following the successful completion of its carrier incremental availability.
The aircraft carrier was redelivered to the US Navy by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in May after the ship successfully completed its sea trials, which were carried out in order to validate its onboard systems.
The trials followed the vessel’s refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH), which took place at the company’s Newport News Shipbuilding division.
Image: An F-35C Lightning II aircraft lands on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Photo: courtesy of US Navy by mass communication specialist 3rd class Matt Herbst / Released.