Initial operational capability for the first squadron of 10 F-35C Lightning II fighters was officially declared last week.
“The F-35C is ready for operations, ready for combat and ready to win,” said Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller, commander of naval air forces. “We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our carrier strike groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force.”
The first operational squadron is the “Argonauts,” Strike Fighter Squadron 147 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore near Fresno.
The Navy version is the first 5th generation warplane to operate from an aircraft carrier. It carries more fuel that the Air Force and Marine versions, and has larger wings that fold up for carrier storage.
The jets feature stealth design to avoid radar and sophisticated avionics for missions of air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses and close-air-support.
“The F-35C will revolutionize capability and operating concepts of aircraft carrier-based naval aviation using advanced technologies to find, fix and assess threats and, if necessary, track, target and engage them in all contested environments,” said Rear Admiral Dale Horan, director of the F-35C Fleet Integration Office.
He said the Navy is now preparing for the first deployment of the squadron aboard the Vinson, which was long based on San Diego but recently transferred to Bremerton, WA.
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