F-35C carrier qualifications complete

The US Navy has completed the F-35C Lightning II’s carrier qualification testing. This followed an embarkation on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) between March 17 and 21. Pilots assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA 101) ‘Grim Reapers’ based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and VFA-125 ‘Rough Raiders’ from NAS Lemoore, California made 140 deck landings. F-35C initial operational test and evaluation will start in September following shipboard operational testing. The F-35C is scheduled to achieve initial operational capability in 2019. The first F-35C deployment will take place on board the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in 2021. Following that, F-35Cs will be assigned to Carrier Air Wing 5 based at MCAS Iwakuni in Japan. David C Isby