10/12/2015: F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighters assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 go through flight evolutions aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) conducting follow-on sea trials.
Credit:Navy Media Content Service:10/3/15
According to Colin Clark of Breaking Defense:
After all the talk from senior Navy leaders about the life cycle costs of the Joint Strike Fighter program and the limits of stealth over the last five years, it was intriguing to hear top Navy commanders and pilots praising the performance of the F-35Cs being tested here.
The pilots were using the third generation helmets, a little over a month since the first one was delivered by Rockwell Collins. The verdict from three different pilots: it improved their ability to fly and land on the carrier at night, perhaps the most difficult feat for any pilot. They also got the chance to push the plane and the carrier to their limits.
The carrier was operating in crosswinds of up to 40 knots, and the planes were taking off with nearly full fuel loads of 50,000 pounds at the lowest speeds possible to establish the baseline for F-35C operations from here on out.
As the planes cleared the bow after being catapulted forward, they were falling up to 17 feet, testing the pilots’ abilities to control the plane, as well as pushing the planes avionics and control surfaces. Joe DellaVedova, the F-35 program spokesman, called the effort “once in a lifetime” testing.