Norfolk, Va. – The Navy will begin the second phase of testing of the F-35C aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in early October.
The trials will mark the second phase of developmental testing for the carrier-based version of the F-35. The aircraft’s ability to launch and recover from the carrier, and its performance in suboptimal conditions and during night operations will be evaluated, according to the Navy Times.
The Navy conducted initial sea trials with the fighter jet aboard the carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of Southern California in November.
The news of the upcoming testing comes amid indications budget pressures and competing priorities could drive the Navy to purchase fewer of the planes per year in the 2020s. The current plan is to purchase around 20 F-35Cs annually during that decade, but one top service official said recently that number could fall to as low as 12.
“I think the current realities of the budget environment and other priorities inside the Navy may drive something between those two numbers,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of naval air forces, said last week at an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I’ll keep working as hard as I can with our leadership in the building to ensure we can stay on the path and get out of classic Hornets [and] replace them with our F-35Cs as quick as we can.”
The F-35C is expected to become operational by 2018.