News

Wheels Up: U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 147 ‘Argonauts,’ Execute First F-35C Flight

Lockheed Martin // April 30, 2018

On April 18, the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-147 ‘Argonauts,’ completed its first F-35C flight at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, Calif. The inaugural flight supports the squadron’s transition from the F/A-18E Super Hornet to the F-35C, marking a significant step forward in the integration of the F-35C weapons system into the Navy’s arsenal.

Lt. Dave "Strokes" Hinkle from VFA-147 Argonauts prepares for his first flight with the F-35C Lightning II at NAS Lemoore. The Argonauts are the Navy's first operational Joint Strike Fighter squadron.

 “In the back of my mind, I knew this day would happen eventually, but I still can’t believe that we are here, we are doing it and I have the privilege of being a part of this amazing program,” said Lt. Dave “Strokes” Hinkle, the first U.S. Navy operational squadron pilot to fly the F-35C. “When you realize what this day means, not just in the context of our squadron’s history, but also what it means to the U.S. Navy, it is both simultaneously humbling and empowering to catch a glimpse of what’s in store for our community.”

The squadron began the initial transition back in December after completing a six-month deployment aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as part of Carrier Air Wing 11. Since their return, both pilots and maintainers have undergone extensive training, completing F-35 ground school at Eglin Air Force Base and NAS Lemoore. The transition, which is set to be complete in late 2018, makes the Argonauts the first operational squadron in the USN to receive and field the aircraft.

Lt. Cmdr Mike "Waylon" Jennings and Lt. Dave "Strokes" Hinkle from the "Argonauts" #VFA147 prepare for their first flight with the #F35C Lightning II at NAS Lemoore. They are the first aviators from a U.S. Navy operational squadron to fly the aircraft.

“The day we returned from deployment, we knew we would have to hit the ground running,” said VFA-147 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Patrick “Ernie” Corrigan. “There is no such thing as a slow day for any member of our Argonaut team. I applaud all of our Sailors and pilots for continuously pushing this program to where it needs to be for us to succeed and meet our target date later this year. It will take all of us, pulling together, to make this happen.”

Looking ahead, the Argonauts will begin more intensive flying as they begin their integration into a carrier air wing, a process that will include preparation for deployment on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in 2021.

With advanced stealth, coupled with sensor fusion, unprecedented battlespace awareness, and electronic attack, the F-35C provides the warfighter the ultimate ability to more effectively execute assigned missions in the face of advancing threat capabilities around the globe.

Lt. Cmdr Mike "Waylon" Jennings and Lt. Dave "Strokes" Hinkle from the "Argonauts" #VFA147 prepare for their first flight with the #F35C Lightning II at NAS Lemoore. They are the first aviators from a U.S. Navy operational squadron to fly the aircraft.

The F-35 is a transformational weapons system that provides significantly better battlespace accessibility and lethality, while also enhancing all other air, sea and ground assets by sharing its fused sensor information for unmatched threat and battlespace awareness.

By 2025, the Navy's Carrier Air Wings are scheduled to include F-35Cs, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters, and CV-22 carrier on board delivery logistics aircraft.

Tags