Get Ready, North Korea: The F-35 Is Almost Ready to Attack from Aircraft Carriers
Being engineered for a carrier, the F-35C’s 51-foot wingspan is larger than the Air Force’s F-35A and Marine Corps’ F-35B short take-off-and-landing variants. The fighter is configured to carry 19,000 pounds of fuel and 18,000 pounds of weapons. It can fire two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The F-35C can reach speeds up to Mach 1.6 and travel more than 1,200 nautical miles.
The Navy’s stealthy carrier-launched F-35C is now moving much closer to combat readiness after conducting “carrier qualification” exercises from the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of Southern Calif., service officials said.
The qualifications are designed to prepare pilots for the rigors of carrier air wing combat missions and further prepare the aircraft and its weapons systems for operational service.
Carl Vinson air operations officer Cmdr. Joshua Hammond said carrier qualifications are important because they allow Carl Vinson to practice launching and recovering aircraft while helping qualify new pilots, according to a Navy statement from aboard the Carl Vinson.
“Being at sea for FRS (fleet replacement squadron) CQ gives us practice at what we do on deployment: launching and recovering aircraft,” Hammond. “We can’t always be underway with Carrier Air Wing, so these operations help us stay sharp and hone our craft while helping new pilots gain proficiency.”
Alongside the carrier qualifications on board the Carl Vinson, the Navy was also conducting testing of a special take-off mechanism known as the “hold back bar.” This is a technology which helps determine key elements of a carrier catapult launch such as the needed amount of thrust, speed and steadiness determined for a particular air frame.
“The reduced setting of repeatable release hold back bar performed well both test and fleet are pleased with the progress made in reducing the force of the ocillation seen during catapult shots. The fleet will continue the assessment of the bar,” Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Joint Program Office, JSF, told Scout Warrior.
Weapons preparation also continues to progress as part of the Navy’s push to bring the F-35C into combat. The F-35C has now been armed with a large, 5,000-pound load of weapons as part of a strategy to prepare the emerging aircraft for air-to-air engagements and air-to-ground attacks against enemy air defenses.