F-35C finished another carrier suitability testing

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The F-35 integrated test force completed jet blast deflector (JBD) testing at the NAVAIR facility in Lakehurst, N.J. Aug. 13 with a round of two-aircraft testing.F-35C test aircraft CF-1 along with an F/A-18E tested a combined JBD cooling panel configuration to assess the integration of F-35s in aircraft carrier launch operations.

“We completed all of our JBD test points efficiently,” said Andrew Maack, government chief test engineer. “It was a great collaborative effort by all parties.”

The government and industry team completed tests that measured temperatures, pressures, sound levels, velocities, and other environmental data. The combined JBD model will enable carrier deck crews to operate all air wing aircraft, now including the F-35C, as operational tempo requires.

Future carrier suitability testing is scheduled throughout this year, including ongoing catapult testing and the start of arrestment testing in preparation for initial ship trials in 2013.

With this, the F-35C is another step closer to initial ship trials on an aircraft carrier at sea.

The F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with its larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for catapult launch, slower landing approach speeds, and deck impacts associated with the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment.

Story and Photo: NAVAIR

“We need to move into the F-35C” – Navy Rear Adm. Michael C. Manazir

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The Navy needs the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter‘s fifth-generation capabilities, according to Navy Rear Adm. Michael C. Manazir .

The service’s acting director of air warfare spoke to reporters because he wanted to “completely dispel the rumor that the Navy is soft on F-35C.

The F-35C is the aircraft-carrier version of the joint strike fighter. The F-35A model is for the Air Force, and the F-35B will be a vertical take-off and landing model for the Marines.

The FA-18E and FA-18F Super Hornets are great airplanes, Manazir said, but they do not have the capabilities that the F-35C’s will bring to the Navy. Delays in the joint strike fighter program and the cost increases associated with them caused some supposition that the Navy would turn to the FA-18s, he added.

The Navy has had the F-35C on its horizon for more than a decade, the admiral said. In that time, the FA-18′s capabilities have grown, with the latest aircraft – the E, F and G models – reaching the fourth-generation airframe’s limits. “We need to move into the F-35C to realize our vision of tactical air coming off of carriers,” he said.

“We’re completely committed to the F-35C,” he added, noting that staying with the Super Hornet would put the United States at a disadvantage against a near-peer competitor.

Still, the admiral said, the Super Hornet program is not ending, just yet. The Navy wants to buy 124 of the aircraft through fiscal 2013 to bring its number of Super Hornets to 515. Beginning in fiscal 2016, he said, aircraft carriers will deploy with a mix of Super Hornets and F-35C’s.