The first harbinger

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has received its first Carrier Variant (CV) F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the Lockheed Martin announced on 22 December 2014.

F-35C Lightning II (aircraft CF-02)
F-35C Lightning II (aircraft CF-02)

Aircraft CF-19 will now be transferred from the Fort Worth production facility in Texas to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where it will be assigned to the U.S. Navy’s (USN’s) VFA-101 ‘Grim Reapers’ for pilot training.

The USMC is acquiring a mixed fleet of Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B and CV F-35C aircraft. The current plan is for the Corps’ current McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs to be replaced by 353 F-35Bs, and its Boeing F/A-18 Hornets to be replaced by 67 F-35Cs. Initial operating capability for the F-35B is slated to be achieving in the coming months, while that for the F-35C is expected in 2018.

According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, CF-19 was the 36th and final F-35 to be delivered this year. Aircraft delivered in 2014 comprised 23 Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) F-35As to the U.S. Air Force (USAF), two F-35As to the Royal Australian Air Force, four F-35Bs to the USMC, six F-35Cs to the USN, and one F-35C to the USMC.

The Department of the Navy decided to base F-35C Lightning II aircraft at NAS (Naval Air Station) Lemoore, California. NAS Lemoore is the newest and largest Master Jet Base in the U.S. Navy. It has two offset parallel runways 4,600 feet (1,400 m) apart.

The F-35C completes catapults and arrestments aboard USS Nimitz on November 12, 2014.
The F-35C completes catapults and arrestments aboard USS Nimitz on November 12, 2014

With the programme still in low-rate initial production (LRIP), the final two lots (LRIP 10 and LRIP 11) are due to be contracted in the next couple of years. After 2016, Lockheed Martin intends to ramp-up to full-rate production of about one aircraft per day.

More than 50 years of carrier based fighter evolution culminates in the Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II aircraft. Never before has very low observable stealth been available at sea. With a broad wingspan, ruggedized structures and durable coatings, the F-35C Lightning II CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery) aircraft is designed to stand up to harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of 5th Generation fighter capabilities.

The Carrier Variant Lockheed Martin aircraft sets a new standard in weapon systems integration, maintainability, combat radius and payload that brings true multimission capability to naval forces around the world.

It is truly a first-day-of-the-war fighter with the ability to dominate adversaries in the air or on the surface, while surviving the most formidable threat environments.

CF-01 flew with inert AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on port and starboard pylons to measure flying qualities and aircraft vibrations
CF-01 flew with inert AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on port and starboard pylons to measure flying qualities and aircraft vibrations

F-35C SPECIFICATIONS

Length:                                                             51.5 ft/15.7 m

Height:                                                             14.7 ft/4.48 m

Wingspan:                                                      43 ft/13.1 m

Wing area:                                                      668 ft2/62.1 m2

Horizontal tail span:                                 26.3 ft/8.02 m

Weight empty:                                             34,800 lb/15,785 kg

Internal fuel capacity:                             19,750 lb/8,960 kg

Weapons payload:                                    18,000 lb/8,160 kg

Maximum weight:                                      70,000 lb class/31,751 kg

Standard internal weapons load:     Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles

Two 2,000-pound (907 kg) GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs

Developmental Testing I is the first of three at-sea test phases for the F-35C carrier variant
Developmental Testing I is the first of three at-sea test phases for the F-35C carrier variant

Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings):          F135-PW-400

Maximum Power (with afterburner):               43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/ 19,507 kgf

Military Power (without afterburner):           28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/ 13,063 kgf

Length:                                                                               220 in/5.59 m

Inlet Diameter:                                                              46 in/1.17 m

Maximum Diameter:                                                 51 in/1.30 m

Bypass Ratio:                                                                 0.57

Overall Pressure Ratio:                                           28

F135-PW-400 engine for F-35C Carrier Variant (CV)
F135-PW-400 engine for F-35C Carrier Variant (CV)

Speed (full internal weapons load):                  Mach 1.6 (~1,200 mph/ 1931 km/h)

Combat radius (internal fuel):                             >600 NM/1,100 km

Range (internal fuel):                                                >1,200 NM/2,200 km

Max g-rating:                                                                7.5

 

Planned Quantities

U.S. Navy:                                                                       260;

U.S. Marine Corps:                                                       80;

In total:                                                                             340

 

 

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