Home » Aviation » F-35C Aviators Carrier Qualify Aboard USS Abraham Lincoln

F-35C Aviators Carrier Qualify Aboard USS Abraham Lincoln

An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the Grim Reapers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 lands on the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). Abraham Lincoln is underway conducting training after successful completion of carrier incremental availability. US Navy Photo

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) recently notched some significant firsts for air operations, including using a new landing system during carrier operations and qualifying its first F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aviators.

The Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) was used for the first time in an operational setting, and the Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) was used for the first time aboard a carrier, while Abraham Lincoln was underway conducting carrier qualifications and training in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a statement released by the Navy.

Also while Abraham Lincoln was underway, nine F-35C aviators with the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, the “Grim Reapers” of VFA-101, and VX-9 carrier qualified in the Navy’s first stealth fighter. In October, F-35C aviators qualified aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), according to a Navy spokesperson.

Since a portion of the qualification process occurred during periods of inclement weather, the squadrons tested the new JPALS in various conditions. The all-weather system works with the ship’s navigation system to provide accurate and reliable guidance for aircraft. Previously, F-35Cs had only used JPALS for developmental testing, according to a statement released by the Navy.

An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the “Rough Raiders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 sits on the flight deck prior to flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). (U.S. Navy photo)

When discussing the Lightning II on Navy Live, the Navy’s official blog in the summer of 2016, Navy test pilots lauded the aircraft’s landing mode.

“The Lightning II is outfitted with a landing mode that greatly enhances the pilot’s ability to safely land aboard an aircraft carrier – a feature that has been developed alongside a similar program for the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The precise landing capabilities granted by these programs come as close as possible to simplify the most demanding aspects of shipboard recovery,” said Lt. Nicholas “Fila” Rezendes, a Navy fighter pilot assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, in a 2016 blog post. “The F-35C brings a multitude of tactical mission sets to the U.S. Navy, and will prove to be a lethal and capable asset to carrier air wings.”

By 2025, Navy aircraft carrier air wings are expected to include F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and carrier onboard delivery logistics aircraft, according to the service.

Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln’s crew used ALIS, an information infrastructure allowing operators to plan, maintain, and sustain systems over the F-35Cs. ALIS provides a secure way to transmit up-to-date operations, maintenance, prognostic, support, training and technical data to users and technicians worldwide. ALIS is considered the IT backbone of current and future aircraft, according to a statement released by the Navy.

Below deck on Abraham Lincoln, the aircraft intermediate maintenance department performed their first unassisted F-35C tire change, according to a statement released by the Navy. The tire change is considered significant, the Navy statement explained, because the accomplishment suggests the airwing will successfully integrate with Abraham Lincoln.

  • DaSaint

    Glad that tire change was successful…integration now possible (sarcasm)!

    Can’t wait for that at-sea engine change, which should be much more of a capability indicator for the maintenance crew.

    • WOLF35


      • DaSaint

        Great. Then that’s far more significant than a tire change.

        • USNVO

          Yes and no. Changing an engine is important but with a 2500 MTBO, it is not like the F135 will be changed all that often, probably one or two a deployment if they are sloppy on FOD. However, they will need to change tires on a regular basis and the fact they did it without assistance is probably an important milestone. Probably not the most important one, but still something they had to demonstrate.

          • DaSaint

            Thanks for the perspective!

      • Rocco

        That was a marine F-35B on the America LHA!! Not the same.

  • brad james

    This equipment is now rolling into service worldwide except canada of course where the liberals have opted for rent a wrecks over state of the art……AGAIN!!!!

    • Rocco


    • muzzleloader

      If Canada is content to have its Air Force be primarily an air defense force, which it is, then refurbished legacy hornets will work for them. It is highly unlikely RCAF pilots will ever mix it up with Russian SU-33,s, rather they will continue to escort Bears out of Canadian air space as they have been doing.
      If a shooting war would ever come to pass, and with a total of 77 fighters, AD will be all the Canadians will be able to do.

      • John B. Morgen

        The RCAF needs more fighters.

  • battlestations

    Are we going to only have F-35C capable CVN’s that have gone thru carrier incremental availability? We have Lincoln, Ford (I assume?) and next F-35C capable CVN will be Washington when she come out of availability in 4 years?

    Are there separate plans to get the carriers that have already had their incremental availability performed to becoming F-35C capable? How many years before all our CVN’s are F-35C capable?

    • Duane

      Good question, though so far the Navy hasn’t published an integration plan for the F-35C, and what hardware changes specifically are required to the existing Nimitz class CVNs, and a schedule. Currently the F-35C is scheduled to achieve IOC in FY-2019 (next year), and the overall implementation plan is to complete integration of the F-35C in the fleet by the mid-2020s.

    • Rocco

      That would depend on which Nimitz CVN’s get retired!! The first 3 ships were built from the kiel up so their harder to do major rehab! Eventually they will be retired as new Fords are built. Assuming the Navy is going to ask one for one which is ridiculous!! We don’t have enough flyable jets for the ship’s we have now.

  • leroy

    At least now the Navy will be able to sneak up on UFOs! : )

    • UFOs will probably have better stealth capabilities

    • Rocco

      Hah!! Where have you been???

      • leroy

        Around. And if I don’t get a chance, Merry Christmas! : )

        • Rocco

          Same here my friend!! FYI you can opt out on discuss & it will get you back in.⚓️👍

  • publius_maximus_III

    Checking them off, one at a time. Well done.

  • Ed L

    So we can assume that F35C’s can land on Carriers that don’t have the new landing system

    • Duane

      Yes, of course. The system is not necessary for the F-35C to land, but it makes the landing much easier and more precise particularly in low visibility conditions. Compared to non-JPALS assisted landings, the Navy has found that there is a significant increase in the sortie rate and it also significantly reduces (by up to 50%) the number of carrier landings necessary to certify an F-35 pilot as compared to what it takes for a Super Hornet pilot.

      JPALS is also being adapted to other carrier aircraft like the Super Hornets, and is also being adapted to aid in landing other aircraft. It is also “portable”, meaning that the surface-based portion of the system can be set up anywhere, on a carrier or on land. Which provides the same kind of precision landing guidance available at commercial airports with CAT III ILS at any airfield one needs, such as in forward fixed wing air bases or LZs for rotorcraft. These systems can enable zero visibility landings.