Home » Aviation » Navy’s F-35C Completes Landing Tests Ahead of October Sea Trials

Navy’s F-35C Completes Landing Tests Ahead of October Sea Trials

Navy F-35C test plane CF-3 successfully catches a wire during testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Lockheed Martin Photo

Navy F-35C test plane CF-3 successfully catches a wire during testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Lockheed Martin Photo

The U.S. Navy’s carrier-based version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is nearing October sea trials after completing shore-based testing at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, to ensure compatibility with shipboard arresting gear.

“From 9 to 16 Jan, the F-35 team accomplished 36 successful roll-in arrestment tests at Lakehurst with the redesigned F-35C arresting hook system on CF-3,” wrote Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office in a Tuesday email to USNI News. “All flight test objectives were met.”

Even before CF-3 deployed to Lakehurst for testing, the F-35C’s redesigned tail-hook showed early signs of promise. “Prior to the Lakehurst deployment, CF-3 also performed 3 lower-energy roll-ins and 1 fly-in arrestment at Patuxent River [Maryland] to reduce risk by confirming system and instrumentation functional operation,” DellaVedova wrote.

Aircraft CF-3, which is the third carrier variant test article, is the first F-35C to be fitted with the redesigned tail-hook. The tail-hook has been a vexing problem on the F-35C variant when it was discovered in 2012 that the original hook could not reliably engage an arresting wire.

Lockheed and the Joint Strike Fighter program office ultimately traced the problem back to the shape of the hook. The solution was to reshape the hook point and adjust the system’s hold-down damper, which helps prevent the hook from bouncing around upon touchdown.

With the Lakehurst deployment completed, aircraft CF-3 will spend the next several months proving that it is suitable for operations at sea onboard a carrier.

“The aircraft has ferried back to Patuxent River, where it will now commence 3-4 month series of field-based ship suitability tests, including fly-in arrestments that are scheduled to begin soon,” DellaVedova said.
“These tests are expected to lead to a certification of the F-35C for shipboard flight trials, which are planned to commence in Oct. 2014.”

The F-35C was originally expected to conduct sea trials on USS Nimitz (CVN-68), however it unclear if that is still the case.

  • MrSatyre

    “…the F-35 team accomplished 36 successful roll-in arrestment tests…” Out of how many runs? Also, is there any difference between the cable system on the new carrier design and the existing carrier fleet? The EMALS is different, of course.

    • Matthew Zagone

      EMALS= Electromagnetic Aircraft LAUNCH System; it has nothing to do with landing. All the differences between the Nimitz & Ford class arresting gear (and the catapults for that matter) are beneath the deck. The difference is in the machinery that makes them work, not the interfaces with the aircraft.

  • ELP

    No photos yet because they don’t want to disappoint. Let us see what actual flying produces. In other news, buffet and trans-sonic roll-off. There will be more cable wear with the F-35C. The Navy also does not know what damage this new hook will put on the decks. Other risks? The program has had to abandon ALIS for the rest of the F-35 SDD. VSim, the software system that evaluates enemy threats is far behind. They have no way of knowing F-35 survivability against an enemy. That hasn’t stopped the marketing department (or fan-magazine writers) from telling us 6-1 better than legacy nonsense. Weight margins are paper thin for all variants. At this time no known operational empty weight. 2B software isn’t anywhere close to being finished, and even if it was, it is a sham of capability. At this time there is nothing that the Super Hornet can’t do better simply because too-big-to-fail for the Just So Failed has become too-big-to-save.

    • McLovin

      Are you a disgruntled former/wanna be LM employee?? Or someone who is rattling off misinformation passed along to you?? I went through every comment you’ve ever made regarding the F-35, and you literally have disparities in every statement. “There will be more cable wear with the F-35C” really, how? Do you have actual figures to support that erroneous statement? Of course you don’t. Considering I’m looking at an F-35 as I type, do us a favor and be quiet, please and thank you.

      • ELP

        Big deal. You have one in front of you. Which basically means you are a prisoner because your pay-check depends on the Devastator II / Brewster Buffalo II working based on faith. If you would spend more time researching the topic you would find that it is the Navy that expects that very thing: more cable wear, from a sharper hook. I suspect hook-skips have a potential for more deck wear.

        • McLovin

          As aforementioned, you really have no idea sir/ma’am. And my paycheck depends on electricity being provided to the server of the bank that direct deposits it. Sidenote: the hook point is almost identical to that of a super hornet. Quit believing everything you read, you’ll only continue to brighten my day.

      • Beazz

        Hi McLovin,
        Don’t waste your time with Eric Palmer, aka ELP. I have been seeing him on defense forums for a decade and he has ALWAYS been anti F22 and F35. His info is always dated and/or outright intentionally presented out of context to drive home his bias towards against those 2 aircraft. Oh yea, he hates the V22 Osprey as well. He’s a Sprey and Wheeler clone. If he had his way we would still be flying F15/16s with nothing but a gun on them. Thats honestly how they think.
        Eric Palmer and his heroes from the old *fighter mafia* are all complete laughable jokes now. Eric is not known for anything like those men from the old fighter mafia that supposedly had a lot of input into how the F15/16 were to be used and the weapons they would have. They don’t even if think they should have RADAR on them. Just a gun and gas lol
        That’s the mentality you’re dealing with anyhow.