Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Lockheed Martin F-35C stealth fighter, the carrier launched variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is participating in integrated flight operations aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier for the first time.
The flight operations program is being undertaken aboard the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), which is off the Virginia and North Carolina coasts in an area the Navy calls the Virginia Capes Operating Area (VACAPES OPAREA).
The Lincoln is launching F-35Cs side by side with Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets; Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeyes and Grumman C-2 Greyhounds. It’s the first time the F-35C is training alongside its shipmates in a carrier air wing.
The F-35Cs belong to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), also known as the “Rough Raiders.” This strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California is a Fleet Replacement Squadron.
The goal of the flight operations exercise is to work out the kinks and ensure aircraft and systems work together, said Rear Adm. Dale Horan, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 8.
“Until you get an airplane out and mixed with other airplanes, you don’t necessarily grasp those differences,” said Adm. Horan, eho is also director of Joint Strike Fighter fleet integration. “For the first two days or so, everybody was: ‘Wow, it’s F-35s!’ And now it’s: ‘Hey, those are airplanes.’
“They move around on the flight deck like a Navy airplane moves around on the flight deck. And seeing that seems to look relatively normal.”
The F-35C will be substantially different from its Hornet forerunners when it is officially integrated into the carrier air wing. Some of its chief virtues lie more with what it won’t be shooting rather than what it will.
Its passive sensors and target-sharing capabilities accelerate the Navy down a path it’s been forging since China and Russia became challenges to U.S. primacy in the world. This new strategy means moving away from large active sensors such as the AN/SPY-1 anti-air warfare radars that are easy to detect with electronic warfare equipment, and relying more on passive sensors.
The Navy is driving toward combining the F-35C’s stealth characteristics with the ability to develop and share kill-quality target data with other aircraft. These fellow aircraft will be Super Hornets equipped with Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) or even anti-air warfare specializing cruisers and destroyers. This teamwork will enable F-35Cs to let others do the shooting while it remains undetected and invisible to enemy radar.
Article – All Rights Reserved.
Provided by FeedSyndicate