Gallery: F-35C Lightning II conducts carrier tests aboard USS George Washington

Photos: USS George Washington Public Affairs/US Navy

F-35C Lightning II carrier variant aircraft and their crew landed aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) on August 14 to complete developmental testing (DT-III).

Tests of the Navy’s newest strike fighter will be carried out by Patuxent River Integrated Test Force team of test pilots, engineers and squadron Sailors and Marines.

The testing is the final at-sea stage in preparation of the initial operational capability (IOC) slated for 2018.

Sylvia Pierson, F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office/Naval Variants public affairs officer, said: “The full complement of F-35 sensors delivers a spherical view of the battlespace that equips the pilot, the commander at sea, and the commander on the ground with information from many sources and enables the carrier strike group and joint force to make critical decisions based upon that information. The aircraft combines this sensing capability with the Navy’s first stealth at-sea to see adversaries first, take decisive action, and come home safely. Overall, this fusion of information that is shared by the pilot with those on the ground and on the sea is a game-changer.”

The F-35 Lightning II combines stealth technology with strike fighter maneuverability and innovative communications with an information infrastructure designed to generate a user-friendly maintenance program.

According to the U.S. Navy, each variant of the F-35 has been successful in completing their milestones and the carrier variant, F-35C, is on target to do so by 2018.

“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 Pierson. “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. 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.”