NORFOLK, Va. - The next phase of military aviation is here. The F-35 C, the Navy's newest and most advanced aircraft, is getting its sea legs aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
The jet brings stealth technology to the Navy, meaning it will be virtually undetectable to enemy radar. According to makers of the jet, the new technology will help the Navy have a higher mission success rate and provide a major advantage in combat. But before the Navy can benefit from the new aircraft, it has to acclimate to life at sea.
For several weeks out in the Atlantic Ocean, sailors worked to integrate the F-35 C with crews, drills and other aircraft aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Those involved in the training are calling it historical.
"It's a big deal because it’s the first time we really see how the airplane handles on the aircraft, how we do maintenance, how we sustain it while we are at sea and how it integrates with the ship," explained Rear Admiral Dale Horan. "It's important to the Navy because we are not going to declare its capability until we see the F-35 C capability demonstrated in operational tests."
An official report will come out once the training is complete, but those involved in the process say it appears to be going well.
"I am really impressed with how well they are doing and how well we are integrating as an air wing team," said Captain Putnam Browne. "It's seamless from my perspective. Their landings are spot-on. They are above average."
Rear Admiral Horan echoes those statements.
"The F-35 C looks like any other airplane out there, moving around along the flight deck and launching and that’s the best look at how its going so far," he said.
The goal is for the F-35 C to be deployed in 2021. If this training continues to go as well as those on board say, the Navy will be one step closer to making its goal.