F-35 earns sea legs

July 28, 2011

F-35C

The Navy’s newest fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, has completed its first steam catapult launch just as naval aviation celebrates its 100th anniversary. EAA AirVenture is conducting a week-long celebration of naval aviation featuring an example of many of the aircraft used by the U.S. Navy over the years.

The launch was conducted from land at Lakehurst, N.J., and was completed July 27, marking an important step toward initial ship trials in 2013.

The catapult is the same as that currently used by Navy aircraft. The F-35C is the carrier variant of the F-35, and features larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear. The larger wing surfaces are needed for the slower launch and landing speeds needed for ship operations.