Photograph: An F-35C Lightning II assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
“The F-35C will be a game-changer for the Navy,” wrote Kelley, now commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, but previously director of the Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration Office.
The Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing, based in Lemoore, California, has transitioned Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 to the F-35C Lightening II from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Lightening II is scheduled to declare initial operating capability (IOC) in February 2019. Pilots finished qualifying for carrier landings aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Dec. 12, and the squadron received a safe-for-flight certification.
“VFA-147 continues to accomplish significant milestones, advancing this program closer to its ultimate goal of integrating the F-35C into the fleet,” said Capt. Max McCoy, wing commander. “The exceptional performance of the squadron throughout the entire transition process is a testament to the hard-working Sailors who make the U.S. Navy F-35C program a reality.”
“Our team has been driving toward fully bringing this platform online for the Navy,” added Cmdr. Patrick Corrigan, commander of VFA-147. “With this certification, we are announcing that we have the right skills, training and people to take this mission and execute it to its fullest potential.”
According to Rear Adm. Kelley, the Navy expects to deploy the first operational F-35C squadron in 2021.