The US Marines Corps (USMC) has completed night operations with the F-35B Lightning II aboard USS Wasp, as part of operational testing 1 (OT-1).
The current operational test aims to assess the integration of the F-35B, while operating across a range of flight and deck operations, maintenance operations, and logistical supply chain support.
OT-1 senior training landing signal officer major Michael H. Rountree Jr. said: "We use the night pattern for unaided recovery. We are not approved to use the night vision camera, or distributed aperture system in the ship environment yet.
"We are simply using the naked eye to get us onto the ship. We fly an approach that funnels us into a good position to take over and land the jet visually."
Night operations are a critical task that both the aircraft and pilot must complete. To pass the test each pilot had to take off and land the F-35B four times aboard the carrier at night.
Sixteen Royal Navy and Royal Air Force members joined with the US forces during the operational tests to serve as F-35 operational assessors, ship integration team members, aircraft technicians, and maintenance crews.
The Royal Navy’s plans for tactical integration of the F-35B into their current arsenal is similar to the US force’s integration of the F-35 with aircraft, such as the AV-8B Harrier, and the F/A-18 Hornet.
The UK is expected to start operating F-35B from home bases from 2018 onwards, and start flying from Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers in 2020.
Image: An F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter taxies to be refuelled on the flight deck of USS Wasp during night operations. Photo: courtesy of US Marine Corps / Cpl. Anne K Henry.