US Navy Fleet Squadron receives 1st F-35C JSF

F-35C C-6 approaches Eglin Air Force Base on June 22. (U.S. Navy)

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The U.S. Navy’s first operational squadron to operate the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) received its first aircraft on Saturday, June 22, when CF-6 arrived at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The aircraft was piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Tabert, an F-35C instructor pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101), who landed after a two-hour flight from Fort Worth, Texas.

VFA-101, based at Eglin, will become the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, training aircrew and maintenance personnel to fly and service the aircraft.

The C is the carrier variant of the JSF, with a different wing, more robust landing gear and a tail hook for carrier operations. The F-35A is operated by conventional land-based air forces, while the F-35B short-take-off-or-vertical-landing (STOVL) version is to be operated by the U.S. Marine Corps and several foreign partners.

Developmental testing of the F-35C continues, but the aircraft is not yet operational. In particular, work continues on software, helmet development, and improving the tailhook arrangement. 

The F-35C will complement, but not replace, F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters when it eventually enters service. Here, a two-seat F/A-18F and a single-seat F/A-18E accompany the F-35C as it approaches Eglin. (U.S. Navy)

The F-35C breaks away from formation prior to landing. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Karen Roganov, 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs )

Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Tabert lands the aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base after a two hour flight from Ft. Worth, Texas. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Karen Roganov, 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

The F-35C is joining VFA-101, based at Eglin. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Karen Roganov, 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Tabert prepares to exit the aircraft after landing at Eglin. {U.S. Air Force Photo by Maj. Karen Roganov, 33d Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Christopher P. Cavas
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Christopher P. Cavas

If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
Christopher P. Cavas
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