F-35C Carrier Version Makes First Flight

A couple of weeks back, Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, head of naval aviation programs, told reporters that the F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter would make its first flight in a “couple of weeks.” Yesterday, CF-1 flew for the first time and Lockheed Martin posted some video for our viewing pleasure. “It should be in [Patuxent River] by the end of the summer and actively participating in flight tests” Manazir said.

— Greg Grant

  • Bob

    The question is, how much will one cost? Next, can thousands of them be produced quickly? Better to have thousands of a good enough fighter, rather than a hundred or so best ever fighters, that are quicly used up in combat and cannot be as quickly replaced.

    In war, quanity is a force multiplyer in its own right.

    • rampking

      I agree with your comment.
      I believe the Germans discovered this during WWII.
      They built often the best equipment but were constantly attrited down.
      In fact perhaps they built their weapons too well, resulting in high costs, lower production and difficult to repair.
      Recall the 1973 Sinai War, Israel had superior weapons overall but started running out of equipment during the all-out war….especially tanks.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/StevenDDeacon StevenDDeacon

        I believe in the future that UAV’s and drones are going to be our force multipliers with the F22A and F35’s behind them.

      • SMSgt Mac

        I believe with deeper review you will find out the Germans started out with the best equipment (developed in peacetime) but stagnated as to fielded systems after hostilities commenced due to a variety of factors: I believe political machinations, doctrinal rigidity, and resource scarcity were the biggest factors. For every Me262 , Komet, or Butcher Bird fielded, dozens of pie in the sky designs were pursued but were set aside. The German tank, superior to most at the start, was inferior in the East to the T-34 (with a superior American-conceived chassis/drivetrain to boot). The Me109 and Ju88 soldiered on long after they should have been retired.
        As to the Yom Kippur war, tactical surprise (Egypt breaching the Suez faster than believed possible) , and the Egypt fielding the first modern IADS in the Sinai combined with masses of RPGs and new Russian Saggers wreaked havoc on the IAF and Iraeli tankers - until we (US) delivered weapons and upgrade kits days into the war allowing Israeli a/c to, among other things, launch Mavericks and Shrikes at standoff distances.

  • DanS

    Fine looking plane, now if only the Marines would buy this version and not insist on STOVL we might actually be able to buy a bunch.

    But looking at this flight test and comparing its size against 18a/c, does anyone have a reliable comparison on frontal aspect low observability between the 35 and 18E? If the difference isn’t substantial why not just buy tons more 18s?

  • Brian

    How relevant is this fighter going to be in 7 years when its finally operationally deployed?

    • SMSgt Mac

      Well it flies farther than the F-18, has better situational awareness, makes cooperative engagement easy, while being comparably ‘invisible’. I’d say it will often be the most lethal thing in the sky within combat radius of a CVN.

  • Howe

    Whoohooo! They managed to get one built before it gets the axe.

  • AME2

    Axe that thing, just buy us more Super Hornets.

  • Dean

    I still don’t like the idea of a single engine carrier aircraft, no matter how great that single engine may be. Why did the Navy go along this this Air Force way of thinking. Most of the great Navy aircraft have been dual engined: F-18, F-14, A-6, S-3, F-4. Punching out over water, even in the best of circumstances, is a scary proposition.

    • robert

      Its not an Air Force thinking. The DOD wanted a plane that could take care of roles and missions for all branches. Also an aircraft to use with our NATO allies. Now instead of making parts from all different contractors, you have one. It’s been simplified. Are mechanics can work on an F35 from other countries if it comes in for whatever reason, they know how to fix it.

  • pedestrian

    >I still don’t like the idea of a single engine carrier aircraft,
    >no matter how great that single engine may be.

    I understand your concern, but it is also a cost issue. I view it as a lo solution to the 5th generation, while Raptor is the hi solution to provide a hi-lo mix. Meanwhile, Boeing is preparing a 6th generation fighter FA-XX for the replacement of Hornets (?). However, I bet the Obama administration will kill the project since it killed some numbers of Raptor claiming it a cold war era machine. Another phenomenom for me is why the Sea Eagle was cancelled in the past. There are some strengths of Hornet vs Sea Eagle, but should have been another joint strike fighter of three branch since the retire of F-4E Phantom II for mass production and parts sharing resulting lower cost per Eagle. In case the FA-XX would be slashed, I hope the Navy and Marines would be able to convert some F-15SE Silent Eagle as Navy versions as an alternative to FA-XX.

  • jessmo

    I would like to respond the the negativity,Lemming like attitude, and the lack of insight concerning with airplane.

    If you had to fly from a carrier in 2020, and bomb Moscow, Beijing, or even Tehran, and you had a choice between a super hornet ( alone no jamming support ) and the F-35 which aircraft would you take?
    If you had to fly into the teeth of advanced IADS, sukkois, T-50s, and S-400s
    and your jammer was compromised which plane would you rather be in?
    The point is that if the Super Hornet needs jammign support, how can it even pretend to be more effective than the F-35? If you need TWO planes to do 1 planes job how is the SH effective? Your telling me if you could have your own F-117,F-16, F-18 all bundled into 1 airframe you would still pick the SH over it?
    If you could get a F-117, AV8, F-16 all bundled into 1 airframe you would still pick the F-18C?

    • Dave

      They will always pick the F-18, the same way Tomcat Sailors will always pick the F-14 over the 18. It’s a pride thing and no Sailor will ever choose a different platform over what they’ve been brain washed to believe is the “best”.

  • LJM

    I have this feeling (and it is just a thought), that today’s military minds are not so much concerned about the present terrorist, as they are about the next bad guy with an overwhelming amount of resources some 10 to 20 years from now.

  • Tenn Slim

    Disclaimer. Former LM Employee, biased.
    The Best of the Best. F35 variants, F22 USAF Dominance fighter, and a long history of aircraft that served the DOD and the USA well.
    You all can discuss, and cuss, the various aspects of need, cost, ability, and future warfare requirements. But when the aircraft you are in, is head to head with the foes best, you do not want an outdated, older variant of some past glorified aircraft around your Butt. You want, need and deserve the very best your nations industry can provide.
    In WW 2 it was the F6F Hell cat, in Korea the F80, in Viet Nam the F4H and F4J, in the various gulf wars, it was the F15 Strike Eagle, In NATO for the Long Cold War it was the F100 series, and now, it is and will be for a long time to come, the F35 Variants.
    Semper Fi
    We WILL Prevail.

  • Tony C

    I hope it has good ejection seats, one engine has always been disliked by the US Navy. The video’s of F-8’s and A-7’s splashing on take off due to an engine failure are impressive!! I think I would like another engine please!!!

    • jessmo

      Dont many aircraft run the Hydraulics from one of the 2 engines any way?
      even in a 2 engine airframe if you lose one its either bail out or glide and RTB.

      • SMSgt Mac

        Not modern combat planes.

  • Infidel4LIFE

    this plane is about the NEXT war, which will surely come, so proceed with the program. the CHI-COMS probably already stole the plans for it anyway, so they will be building them soon too. hope im wrong.

    • Robert Fritts

      No the Chi-Coms with forced labor and artifical low money value will have 35+ J-10s in the air for every J-35 we send out. While theirs will be crude and unrefined, they will still have 600+ availible after they use the nuke option on the carriers(they did not build all those long range,3,000Km+ costal rocket Batteries for nothing). Even with stealth Its does not take MacAuthur and Nimitz to trace a path from a KC-10 or a Carrier. The will build a 5th Generation Fighter only to have us keep spending money(barrowed from them). They will not need it.

  • blight

    Tony: Didn’t the F-14 have engine problems? Having two engines didn’t save it. F-16 has one engine IIRC.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/StevenDDeacon StevenDDeacon

    It appears there are several arguments for not deploying the US Navy’s F-35C Lightening II. Some think the single seat F/A18E and two-seat F/A18F strike fighters, and EA18G electronic warfare version Super Hornets are good enough with twin GE-F414 engines and upgraded avionics fourth generation aircraft. It is a truly formidable fighter today. The F-35C Lightening II is a fifth generation single seat, single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, stealth multirole strike fighter. The Air Force’s F16C/D advanced aerodynamic and avionics fly by wire Light Weight Fighter with single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220E turbofan engine or single General Electric F110-GE-100 engine don’t seem to be falling from the sky due to engine failures. We have a small window of time to get our F35’s incorporated into our arsenal. The Russians and Red Chinese are making progress on their fifth generation fighters as are the Europeans. We need to look ahead and not try to fight future wars with today’s technologies.

  • JCee

    blight: The F14 engine problems were fixes in the F14D models along with many other improvements.

    • William C.

      Well originally the plan was that less than 100 or so F-14As would be produced with the problematic TF30 engine. Production was then to switch over to the F-14B with the F401-PW-400 and those F-14As would be upgraded to this standard as well. The F401 was designed under the same program that led to the F100-PW-100 for the new F-15 Eagle. A F-14C Tomcat was also planned with all weather attack capability and new avionics.

      Yet at the time the Tomcat was facing budget troubles, and in order to keep the program alive the Navy canceled plans for the F-14B and F-14C and stuck with the TF30.

      In the mid 1980s it was decided to finally re-engine the Tomcat and the F110-GE-400 was selected. This was fitted to the F-14A+ (later re-designated F-14B) and the new F-14D.

      The early F401 wouldn’t have been as powerful as the F110-GE-400, and the problems encountered with the F100 would also have to be corrected on the F401. Yet it would have still would have been a much better engine for the Tomcat than the TF30. Upgrades could have certainly produced an engine as powerful and reliable as today’s F100-PW-229.

  • Quietwolf

    If you plan on having a cutting edge military then you need to keep the designers and manufactures working. This isn’t like WWII where you can go from toasters to tanks with a simple retooling. Some things can’t be computer modeled no matter what. You need full scale real world tests and trials. A good example is the Osprey. These problems or finding yourself out gunned is not something you want to discover in the middle of a war.

    • Dean

      Quietwolf-you are certainly correct here. Today’s weapons systems are being built for the next 10 years or so time-frame. Systems in WWII were much more simple and could be manufactured with relative ease. BUT, I do think we need to light a fire under the defense contractors asses and get them to do things quicker and cheaper, because the next major conflicts awaits us sooner rather then later. China is under intense pressure: population growth, land, water, massive desertification of farmland, internal political pressures, etc., so look for them to make a move within the next 5 or so years.

  • Robert Fritts

    Twin engine, Carrier capable, big payload, 4 generation+ optics, radar and data systems. Kicked butt on all, except F-22, in NATO exes, Red flag and Green Flag. CAS for 10th Mountain for six months. Steel on Target everytime, regularly taking out targets that American pilots(even Marine Air) waived off as too dangerous. It must be a Rafale! But we got eleven nations to bet on JSF because the Rafale cost too much at $55million. Rafale 4.0 in 2012 will be $61-63million, while all but Australia are rebudgeting to jump off the JSF ship.

  • Robert Fritts

    Hornets from Truman and Reagan, F-16 Blk60 from Tucson, F-16 BlK52 from Nellis all sent home whipped. The F-22 is the F-22 nuff said, and it has been whipped by Obama. Rafale 68 units to UAE this week and in Turkey for a official reveiw this week due to F-35 price. The new Royal Navy QE2 carrier is being re-designed to have a steam plant for cats due to F-35 price. And JSF may well be $80-$100million more than Rafale, Typhoon and Gripen NG by the time we get the first 20 built. Look for the future Chinese 5th generation fighter to have Israeli electronics. Its time to reorganize the whole Air Force and bring the Heads of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and BA land and Air to trial force abusing the US taxpayer.