Stealth Fighter F-35C Joins the Navy’s “Grim Reapers” Strike Squadron
It was a moment of high anticipation when, on October 1 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the Navy’s “Grim Reapers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 rolled out their newest aircraft — an F-35C Lightning II.
By Jeanne McKinney
The F-35C is a break-through achievement of a Navy-industry partnership that was built to redefine U.S. air fighter support power from the sea.
According to Lockheed Martin, the leader of the aerospace team that designed and built the fifth-generation fighter, the F-35C is the world’s only carrier variant aircraft with radar-evading stealth capability. For the first time in U.S. Naval Aviation history, this multi-mission jet performs from the deck of an aircraft carrier as well from land.
The F-35C has an internal fuel capacity of 19,750 lbs. and combat radius of more than 600 nautical miles with a weapons payload of 18,000 lbs., and flys at speeds above Mach 1.6.
Lockheed Martin claims their agile, supersonic plane “is a first-day-of-the-war fighter with the capability to dominate adversaries in the air or on the surface, while surviving the most formidable threat environments.”
Attending the ceremony were active-duty and retired service members from the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, including Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and Vice Adm. David H. Buss, Commander, Naval Air Forces. Also present were representatives from industry partners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Pratt & Whitney, and several local community leaders.
The Navy released remarks made by Adm. Gortney, who recognized the significance of the rollout ceremony and the impact of adding capabilities of the F-35C. “The most important revolution is fusing these weapons with the rest of the weapons system, [including] our cruisers, destroyers, P-8’s, Tritons and operational and tactical headquarters – the decision makers.”
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