2017-09-13 USS Abraham Lincoln, the first US Navy aircraft carrier capable of accommodating the F-35C Lightning II, welcomed the fifth-generation jet fighter on board earlier this month.
The “Grim Reapers” of Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA 101), the training squadron for the F-35C, joined the USS Abraham Lincoln while underway on September 3.
“The F-35C is still in a testing phase, so it is not fully operational yet,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Karapostoles, a pilot assigned to VFA 101.
“We are the training squadron for the F-35C, so we are onboard this ship conducting our carrier qualification training, qualifying pilots, landing signal officers and maintenance crews.”
The launching and recovering of the F-35Cs presented an opportunity for the crew of Abraham Lincoln to work with a new aircraft and play a role in the development of this new fighter jet.
“Being part of the primary flight control team for the landing and launching of the F-35Cs was such a unique experience,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Mariana Monima.
“The F-35Cs are so amazing and powerful. I feel privileged to have been a part of this historic event.”
According to the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force, the F-35C should reach its initial operational capacity in 2018.
“I love the F-35C,” said Karapostoles.
“Compared to other jets it’s more powerful and really just a beast.
“Some of the controls are different, which can take a little bit of getting used to, but that’s what we have training like this for.”
USS Abraham Lincoln is underway conducting training after successful completion of carrier incremental availability.
Video by Daniel Zaborowski