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FromAll Hands Magazine

Sailors with the Navy's F-35C Lightning II commands at Naval Air Station Lemoore are working together to continue recent successes in pursuit of fully operational and deployable milestones.

The F-35C is the Navy's carrier version of the new joint strike fighter, designed to provide maximum lethality and survivability in a world of diverse, rapidly evolving threats. The aircraft, featuring stealth technology, advanced sensors, and increased weapons capacity and range, is slowly being fielded in the fleet, with a goal, according to Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, of attaining 20 squadrons by the early 2030s.

“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.

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The Commander, Joint Strike Fighter Wing, based in Lemoore, California, has transitioned Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 to the F-35C Lightning II from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Lightning II is scheduled to declare initial operating capability (IOC) in early 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.

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