US Navy recieves first F-35C

The US Navy (USN) received its first Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter training aircraft at Eglin AFB, Florida, on 22 June.

F35C-eglin.jpg The stealthy carrier-based aircraft will be assigned to the service’s Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) Grim Reapers and will fly alongside US Air Force (USAF) and US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35 training units assigned to the air force’s 33rd Fighter Wing.  VFA 101 will serve as a fleet replacement squadron which will train aircrew and maintenance personnel from both the USN and USMC to fly and repair the F-35C

The USN is the last of the US military services to receive the F-35, and many observers say the navy’s commitment to the tri-service jet is lukewarm at best.  However, publicly the USN insists that it is behind the programme.

“For me the F-35C is really a key part of our future,” chief of naval operations Adm Jonathan Greenert told the Senate appropriations sub-committee on defense earlier in the month. “It provides a unique and essential set of capabilities for our air wing and for our carrier strike group, effectively for the fleet.”

The F-35C is expected to become operational with the USN in late 2018 or early 2019.

Meanwhile, on 19 June at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, the F-35B took-on fuel from the Boeing KC-10 for the first time. Not exactly a huge event, but cool photo.f-35bpax.jpg

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