Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First F-35C CATOBAR Fighter Aircraft Flies First Sortie

While the F-35 is plagued by unresolved issues, the program continues to make incremental progress. The latest milestone is the first sortie of a production model of the F-35C carrier variant.

The aircraft will serve later this year with the US Navy Fighter Attack Squadron 101 (VFA-101) at Eglin AFB in Florida, where it will help train F-35C pilots and support personnel.

It will also be the first carrier variant at Eglin AFB, which already has 9 F-35A and 13 F-35B on station as part of the Fleet Replacement Squadron.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II is a stealthy, fifth generation, multi-role fighter consisting of 3 variants:
  • the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL)
  • the F-35B Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL)
  • the F-35C Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR)

The F-35C differs from the other versions in several areas, such as:
  • larger wings with foldable wingtop sections
  • larger wing and tail control surfaces for improved low-speed control
  • decreased landing speed 
  • increased range and payload
  • strengthened landing gear
  • a tailhook compatible with arrestor cables on aircraft carriers
The F-35C is to serve on the aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, where it will complement the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and replace all previous versions of the F-18.

Specifications F-35C
Length 15.7 m
Height 4.48 m
Wingspan 13.1 m
Horizontal tail span 8.02 m
Wing area 62.1 m²
Internal fuel capacity 8960 kg
Weapons payload 8160 kg
Empty weight 15785 kg
Maximum takeoff weight 31750 kg
Speed Mach 1.6
Combat radius: over 1100 km (internal fuel)
Range over 2200 km (internal fuel)
Max g-rating 7.5
Propulsion F135-PW-400 turbofan, 43000 lbs

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