U.S. Navy's first stealth fighter conducts operations on USS Carl Vinson
USS CARL VINSON, off the coast of southern California. An F-35C Lightning II, the Navy variant of the Joint Strike Fighter and the Navy's first stealth fighter jet, landed on and launched from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during recent day and nighttime operations, the latest steps in its journey to becoming an operationally capable aircraft.
The aircraft from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, based in Lemoore, California, flew aboard as Carl Vinson conducted carrier qualifications. "It really is a first," said Lt. Cmdr. Josh Reynolds, VFA-125's operations officer. "For the first time we will have the ability to launch a stealthy, deep-strike outfit from a carrier that can take part in penetration of enemy air defenses on day one."
The F-35's sensor and communications suite has situational awareness, command and control, and network-centric electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. The F-35 has been designed to have a low radar cross-section mostly due to the shape of the aircraft and the use of radar-absorbent materials in its construction. In addition to its radar-evading stealth measures, the F-35 also incorporates infrared signature and visual signature reduction measures.
The F-35C is the world's only fifth-generation, long-range stealth strike fighter designed and built for aircraft-carrier operations. It is scheduled to achieve initial operating capability for the Navy late next year. Carl Vinson will likely be the first West Coast-based carrier to deploy with an F-35C squadron after undergoing a scheduled maintenance period in 2019.