The F-35C Lightning II carrier variant along with the Patuxent River Integrated Test Force team of test pilots, engineers and squadron Sailors and Marines came aboard the USS George Washington to complete developmental testing (DT-III) August 14th.

The F-35C, the US Navy carrier version, has made it back to sea for a third round of “at sea trials” testing. The testing is the final at-sea stage in preparation of the initial operational capability (IOC) slated for 2018.

The US Navy version is the last F-35 in the series to gain IOC. The F-35A (USAF) version declared IOC on 2 August. The USMC version, the F-35B, declared IOC last year.

Like all of the F-35’s, the carrier version has met some of its own unique developmental challenges.

“Prior to DT-I, the first developmental test phase at sea, the team determined that the tailhook required a redesign. Together they identified the problem, designed and tested a solution, and it worked,” said Sylvia Pierson, F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office/Naval Variants Public Affairs Officer.

Those delays (and others) put the F-35 behind its original IOC timeline, but the tailhook fix for F-35 certainly did not affect the aircrafts’s ability to trap on the carrier.

“The aircraft conducted 124 catapult launches, 124 arrested landings, experienced no unintentional bolters, and was a three-wire machine. We had such confidence in the aircraft that we even conducted night operations for the first time during DT-I since the F-4 era.”, said Pierson.

An F-35C taxis onto CAT I onboard the USS George Washington (US Navy)
A yellow shirt directs the F-35C to taxi into the catapult onboard the USS George Washington (US Navy)

This round of testing will put the F-35C through a full complement of “at sea” tests. Heavyweight catapult launches, asymmetric stores, and heavy cross winds launches and arrestments will take the aircraft through the entire envelope. Additionally, maintenance and logistics programs and processes will be exercised to make sure the support structure is in place.

“Ultimately, that’s what we are here to do with the aircraft. The manufacturer builds the aircraft, and the Navy, as a customer, has to go test drive it, to make sure that it does everything that it is supposed to do.”

Top Photo: A yellow shirt directs an F-35C to taxi onto CAT I while onboard the USS George Washington (US Navy)

You can read Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer O’Rourke original article here