The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is finally rolling off the production lines and is being delivered to the United States Navy, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly. They are reporting that the Navy has officially received the first delivery of its planned 369 carrier variant Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The planes arrived at the US Navy’s Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and were immediately assigned to the VFA-101 Grim Reaper squadron.
The Grim Reapers are the first air squadron to begin training on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Additionally, the crews at Eglin Air Force Base are the first to begin training on the maintenance and repair of the plane.
The United States Navy plans on declaring the F-35 operational for combat in 2019 where it will join their already existing fleet of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft, EA-18G Growler electronic warfare platform, Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) asset, Grumman C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, and the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin MH-60R and Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. These aircraft make up the Navy’s carrier based air squadrons.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. F-35 has three main models; the F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the F-35B is a short take-off and vertical-landing variant, and the F-35C is a carrier-based variant. At a cost of almost $200 million dollars per plane, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive plane in the world. It is expected to be the premier plane of the United States and many other western militaries. The plane has been heavily burdened with time delays and cost overruns. In February, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was taken out of service by the Pentagon after a crack was discovered in one of the engine blades.