The U.S. Navy‘s first F-35 Joint Striker Fighter variant underwent a flight exercise Oct. 18 aboard an aircraft carrier off the Southern California coast as the aircraft prepares to reach initial operating capability.
F-35C Lightning II from the Strike Fighter Squadron 125 performed launch and recovery operations on the USS Carl Vinson as part of day and night carrier qualifications, the service branch said Friday.
“We’re supporting efforts to flight test the current helmet-mounted display system,” added VFA-125 Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Josh Reynolds.
Reynolds added that the F-35C works to add airborne stealth and deep-strike capacities to the carrier fleet in efforts to penetrate enemy air defenses.
The aircraft is set to reach IOC status for the Navy toward the end of 2018.
F-35C is a fifth-generation strike fighter for long-range stealth operations in support of aircraft carriers and is meant to enhance awareness, lethality and survivability in the battlespace.
The Navy said the Nimitz-class USS Carl Vinson is anticipated to be the first carrier in the West Coast to go on deployment with an F-35C squadron after the ship undergoes a scheduled maintenance in 2019.