US Navy Air Station Lemoore in California on Wednesday 25 January saw the arrival of the first Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning IIs. Lemoore is the first West Coast naval installation to have F-35Cs permanently assigned. By the end of this year, the base will have ten F-35Cs assigned, building to more than 100 jets in the early 2020s.
The four jets now belong to VFA-125 Rough Raiders, which earlier flew F-18 Hornets and has now been reestablished as a Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). The squadron is to gain no less than 30 Lightning IIs. The squadron is expected to reach Initial Operational Capbility (IOC) on the new jet in 2018.
Back in 2014, Lemoore was chosen over Naval Air Facility El Centro as the US Navy’s West Coast F-35 base. According to the US Navy, Lemoore meets operational needs and minimizes potential environmental impact. Apart from the FRS, Lemoore is to house seven Navy Pacific Fleet squadrons with 10 aircraft per squadron.
US Navy F-35C’s are also based at Edwards Air Base in California for test purposes.
The US Department of Defense is said to be looking into a apparent issue that causes the F-35C naval variant to bounce around too much during catapult launches from US Navy aircraft carriers. The culprit is said to be the jet’s nose gear. A so-called ‘red team’ is looking at the problem and a potential fix, which could take months or even years to fully implement.
The bouncing came apparent during sea trials and is said to cause momentary disorientation by F-35C pilots as they are launched from the flight deck. Pilots even mentoined physical pain during launches. The bouncing of the nose gear is clearly visible in this video, shot in 2014 during sea trials aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz off the coast of San Diego.
The US Navy is planning to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its F-35C in 2018, following in the footsteps of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the US Air Force. The former declared IOC for the F-35B in 2015, and the latter did so for the F-35A last year.
The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is looking to contract Boeing to modify a number of F-18 Super Hornets for use with the Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron (NFDS) Blue Angels, as announced on Monday 25 July. The Blue Angels have been flying the F-18 Hornet for decades, but these ‘legacy’ Hornets are getting harder to come by for the team.
Modificitations to the Super Hornet should include the installation of a smoke system that releases oil into the jet’s engine exhaust. The ensuing smoke gives more depth to the team’s performance in the air. According to NAVAIR, Boeing and is ‘the only source with the knowledge, expertise and on-site personnel necessary’ to accomplish the needed modifications.
The Blue Angels started using F/A-18A and B jets in 1986, replacing those with C and D models in 2010. However, F/A-18E and F Super Hornets are now the dominant models in the US inventory.
The US Navy’s newest playground for its Hornets, Super Hornets and – in the future – Lightning II multi-role fighters is nearing its entry into service. The US Navy press office has confirmed that the USS Gerald R. Ford – an aircraft carrier of a new kind – will be delivered in September.
First CVN 78 will undergo ship sea trials between July and August.
F/A-18E Super Hornet on AAG
The almost 13 billion dollar vessel has been plagued with delays. One of them being the new catapult system, which no longer uses steam but electromagnetics to launch aircraft into the air.
Also, the new turbo-electric landing system has been cause for concern, but manufacturer General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems just reported the first aircraft arrest with the Advanced Arresting Gear on 31 March, done with a US Navy Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18E Super Hornet on the tarmac of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Legendary USS Nimitz
With an official 97 percent of the US Navy’s next-generation supercarrier complete, Newport News Shipbuilding is confident with that the Ford can replace the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) later this year.
At the same time the builder says it is cutting down costs for the second ship in the class, the USS John F. Kennedy, that will trade places with the legendary USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 2021.
The development of the US Navy CMV-22B Osprey carrier onboard delivery plane has started. The joint Bell/Boeing project received its first 151 million dollars for redesigning the aircraft.
Forty-four CMV-22B vertical landing aircraft are set to start streaming into USN service between 2020 and 2024, replacing the traditional fixed-wing Grumman C-2 Greyhound. MV-22s are already very much in use with the US Marines, where they fly everything from cargo to soldiers between navy ships to land-based locations or into the battlefield.
Special Navy Osprey
Bell/Boeing deliver the aircraft at 86.8 million a piece. The extra 151 million dollars that have been allocated now will be used for incorporating an external fuel tank, adapted SATCOMs, a modified shipboard landing system and other stuff not incorporated on the Marine Ospreys.
Arming of the CMV-22Bs is not planned, but could be done in a later stage.