The Navy Receives First F-35C

The Navy’s first F-35C carrier variant production aircraft arrived at Eglin AFB, Fla., on June 22, announced manufacturer Lockheed Martin on June 24. Navy test pilot Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert flew the aircraft, dubbed CF-6, from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Tex., facility, becoming the first military test pilot to fly all three variants, states the release. Strike Fighter Squadron 101, based at Eglin, will be the F-35C fleet replacement squadron and will train both pilots and maintainers. Four additional F-35Cs will arrive at Eglin and will join a dozen of the Air Force’s F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants and 13 of the Marine Corps’ F-35B short takeoff, vertical landing variants already based there. “We are committed to the Navy’s vision for the F-35 that will revolutionize forward-based combat power in current and future threat environments,” said Lorraine Martin, the company’s executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. The Navy plans to declare the F-35’s initial operational capability in 2019, states the release, and use the aircraft to replace their F/A-18s.