Six US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B Lightning II 5th generation fighter aircraft arrived on board the USS WASP off the coast of the US Atlantic coast on Monday 18 May, marking the beginning of the first shipboard phase of the F-35B Operational Test (OT-1).
The trial period continues for the next two weeks, with fleet representative aircraft and maintenance personnel from Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons 13 and 31.
OT-1 assess the integration of the Lockheed Martin F-35B while operating across a wide array of flight and deck operations. such as day and night flight operations in varying aircraft configurations. Also looked at are digital interoperability of aircraft and ship systems, F-35B landing signal officer’s launch and recovery software, day and night weapons loading, plus all aspects of maintenance, logistics, and sustainment support of the F-35B while deployed at sea. Additionally, the test team is working closely with Naval Sea Systems Command to assess specific modifications made to USS WASP to support future deployments.
Data collected and lessons learned during OT-1 will lay the groundwork for F-35B deployments aboard U.S. Navy amphibious carriers following the Marine Corps’ F-35B initial operating capability declaration planned for this coming July.
Featured image (top) F-35B’s arrive on board the USS Wasp. (Image © USMC)