San Diego, Ca. – Today the Navy reached an important milestone after successfully landing an F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego.
Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson landed an F-35C test aircraft at 12:18 p.m. aboard the USS Nimitz’s flight deck.
The arrested landing is part of an the first at-sea Developmental Testing I (DT-I) for the F-35C, which is expected to last two weeks.
“Today is a landmark event in the development of the F-35C,” said Wilson, a Navy test pilot with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23. “It is the culmination of many years of hard work by a talented team of thousands. I’m very excited to see America’s newest aircraft on the flight deck of her oldest aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz.”
Vice Adm. David H. Buss was aboard Nimitz to witness the milestone event.
“What a historic day today is for Naval Aviation. With the first traps and catapult launches of the F-35C Lightning II aboard an aircraft carrier, we begin the integration of the next generation of warfighting capability into our carrier-based air wings,” said Buss. “This important milestone is yet another indicator of Naval Aviation’s ongoing evolution to meet future threats and remain central to our future Navy and National Defense Strategy.”
DT-I is the first of three at-sea test phases planned for the F-35C. During DT-I two F-35C test aircraft from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland will perform a variety of operational maneuvers, including various catapult takeoffs and arrested landings. Operations will also encompass general maintenance and fit tests for the aircraft and support equipment, as well as simulated maintenance operations.
“Our F-35 integrated test team has done an amazing job preparing for today. This will be one landing out of thousands more that will happen over the next few decades,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “For months, we’ve been working with the Nimitz crew, Naval Air Forces, and our industry partners, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, as well as their suppliers, to prepare and train for this event. We plan on learning a lot during this developmental test and will use that knowledge to make the naval variant of the F-35 an even more effective weapons platform.”