VIDEO|F-35C Makes its 1st Carrier Landing

After a long and bumpy approach, the U.S. Navy has announced the first arrested landing of the F-35C aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN 68).  Here’s a video of the Navy’s F-35 variant using its tailhook to catch the arresting cables on the fight deck.

The landing took place near San Diego on Monday and, according to Reuters, marks the beginning of the stealth plane’s testing period.  These sea trials for the $399 billion F-35 program will run until Nov. 17.  In a statement, the Navy said,

The successful recovery of the F-35C represents a step forward in the development of the Navy’s next generation fighter and reinforces Navy-industry partnership goals to deliver the operational aircraft to the fleet in 2018.

Problems with the jet’s tailhook and landing gear had surfaced in the past.  But according to the Wall Street Journal, Lockheed Martin has redesigned the hardware and assuaged doubts in the design after 36 successful test landings on hard ground.  The successful carrier landing will also help boost confidence in the jet’s capabilities.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. David Buss, who was aboard the carrier for the landing, commented on the latest development in the F-35’s saga.

What a historic day today is for Naval Aviation. With the first traps of the F-35C Lightning II aboard an aircraft carrier, we begin the integration of the next generation of warfighting capability into our carrier-based air wings.

All who have followed the development of the F-35 know that it was not easy to get to this point.  In the time leading up to this landing, the F-35 has encountered a lot of turbulence.  A New York Times editorial piece notes that the ultimate cost of the aircraft is double the initial estimates and full production will start six years later than expected.  The piece also says the U.S. government is funding the production of over 2,400 F-35s.

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