F-35C Lightning II carrier landing
An F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighter conducts its first arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nimitz is underway conducting routine training exercises. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly M. Agee/Released)

The U.S. Navy’s F-35C Lightning II carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter made its first arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier on Nov. 3.

The landing took place aboard USS Nimitz’s (CVN 68) flight deck off the coast of San Diego as a part of the initial at-sea Developmental Testing I (DT-I) for the F-35C, according to a Navy release.

DT-I is the first of three at-sea test phases planned for the F-35C. During DT-I, the test team from the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) has scheduled two F-35C test aircraft from Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland to perform a variety of operational maneuvers, including various catapult takeoffs and arrested landings. ITF flight test operations also encompass general maintenance and fit tests for the aircraft and support equipment, as well as simulated maintenance operations.

As with the initial testing of any new aircraft, the goal is to collect environmental data through added instrumentation to measure the F-35C’s integration to flight deck operations and to further define the F-35C’s operating parameters aboard the aircraft carrier.

The ITF test team will analyze data obtained during flight test operations, conduct a thorough assessment of how well the F-35C operated in the shipboard environment, and advise the Navy to make any adjustments necessary to ensure that the fifth-generation fighter is fully capable and ready to deploy to the fleet in 2018.

“With the first traps of the F-35C Lightning II aboard an aircraft carrier, we begin the integration of the next generation of warfighting capability into our carrier-based air wings,” Vice Adm. David H. Buss said in a statement. “This important milestone is yet another indicator of Naval Aviation’s ongoing evolution to meet future threats and remain central to our future Navy and National Defense Strategy.”

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