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F-35C Carrier Tests Slated for November on USS Nimitz

An F-35C Lightning II aircraft makes an arrested landing during a test flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. on May 7, 2014. US Navy Photo

An F-35C Lightning II aircraft makes an arrested landing during a test flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. on May 7, 2014. US Navy Photo

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story had the incorrect hull number of USS Nimitz. It is CVN-68 not CVN-65.

The Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is on track for sea trials onboard the carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in November off the West Coast. That is despite flight envelope restrictions imposed after an engine fire destroyed a land-based F-35A aircraft on take-off in July.

“The event we have planned in November to bring to two C-model F-35s to an aircraft carrier on the U.S. West Coast is still on track,” JSF program manager Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan told reporters at an F-35 Joint Executive Steering Board (JESB) meet in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday.

“We have some work to do as we lead up to that point in November.”
The outcome of those efforts will determine if both F-35Cs will be qualified to conduct catapult launches and arrested recoveries onboard Nimitz. If everything goes well, both jets will be fully qualified to fly from the 100,000-ton warship, Bogdan said.

If the work is not completed in time for November’s sea trials, one jet will fly while the other aircraft will be used onboard the carrier to conduct logistical tests, Bogdan said.

“The November deployment will happen,” Bogdan said.
“It will most likely happen with two airplanes. Whether both airplanes are fully capable of doing all the work remains to be seen.”

Meanwhile, the F-35 program has to make decisions where to build depot level maintenance facilities in Europe and the Pacific.

“We will make those decision and announce them before the end of the year,” Bogdan said.