The nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike group left San Diego Monday, marking the first time a carrier strike group has deployed with F-35C Lightning II stealth jets and Osprey tiltrotors.
The F-35C is the carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter being built in three versions for the Air Force, Marines and Navy. The Navy version can fly 1.6 times the speed of sound and has a combat radius of 600 nautical miles.
“Vinson is the first carrier to accommodate a mix of 4th- and 5th- generation strike fighters, providing unprecedented lethality and survivability and ensuring the Navy team can operate and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future,” said Capt. Tommy Locke, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2.
The Ospreys are replacing the fixed-wing C-2A Greyhounds for carrying supplies and personnel to and from the carrier.
The Carl Vinson returned to its home port of Naval Air Station North Island last September, following 17 months of retrofitting at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at a cost of $367 million.
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was docked in Bremerton, Washington, while undergoing a complete system retrofit to accommodate the F-35C fighters. Additional efforts while in Washington included upgrades to crew living spaces and maintenance on the ship’s hull, rudders and shafts.
The Carl Vinson is supported by more than 5,000 crew members and carries 65 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
The supercarrier gained notoriety for transporting Osama bin Laden’s body to be buried at sea in 2011.
Joining the Carl Vinson on the deployment in the strike group are the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Chafee, USS Dewey, USS Higgins, USS Michael Murphy, USS O’Kane and USS Stockdale.
Updated at 4:55 p.m. Aug. 2, 2021
City News Service contributed to this article.