By Tommy H. Thomason

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

F-35C: So far, so good

6 June 2014 Update:

The F-35C has demonstrated the required 21.4 foot per second sink-rate capability in trials at Patuxent River, accomplishing a major milestone in shore-based carrier-suitability testing.
Lockheed Martin Photo by Dane Wiedmann

2 February 2014 Update:
 The "extended evaluation"at Lakehurst mentioned below turns out to have only required a week, concluding on 16 January. All flight test objectives were met according to the Navy. However, the airplane has been returned to Patuxent River for "3-4 months of field-based tests" according to an article in the US Naval Institute News ( At-sea trials are scheduled for October 2014, more than a year later than the Lockheed Martin program manager's projection in January 2012. A cynic would say that since this milestone has slipped yet again, this time a year in a little more than a year, the current projection will also come and go without it happening. I hope not. The Navy is already facing a shortfall in deployable fighter airplanes in the latter half of this decade due to the slip in F-35C IOC (Initial Operation Capability) or whatever it's being called these days.

Original Post:

In late 2011, I wrote about the F-35C's problems with arresting landings as part of a summary history of the practice. See

The testing in question occurred in early 2011, not "2012" as recently reported in USNI News (

If you read between the lines as I had intended, you would have thought that the fix would not be a big deal. It may not have been, but only now, more than two years later, is the Navy reporting an initial success:
Lockheed Martin Photo

I'm not sure that this was the first arrestment in the recent past, but this one reportedly occurred at Pax River on 19 December 2013. The airplane will now go up to the Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst, New Jersey for an extended evaluation beginning in January.

In an interview published in Defense News in January 2012 (,  the Lockheed Martin program manager projected that the Lakehurst testing would take place in the second quarter of 2103, with at-sea trials in the summer of 2013.

I thought his prognostication sounded about right...


SpazSinbad said...

The recent test shown was for the production hook. Previous tests were good with an interim hook which had a hook point more like an A-4 with the damper still to be redesigned fitted. A recent news item stated NAS Lakehurst was being fixed for hook testing early in 2014, in the meantime production hook testing proceeds at NAS Patuxent River. I guess more info will become available as soon as.

emily mainzer said...

I am pretty sure that F-35C production test will be go on early with out any troubles and there is no doubt it will remain as one of the advanced aircraft's at present as mentioned in the list.