On Monday at 12:18 pm PDT off the coast of San Diego, California, the F-35C
Lightning II made its first arrested landing on an aircraft carrier. Taking place on the first day of a two-week sea trial, the landing of the F-35C test aircraft CF-03 on the flight deck of the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) with test pilot commander Tony Wilson at the controls marked a major step towards the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter entering operational service.
Lockheed Martin has revealed that an F-35B fighter jet made its first vertical takeoff on May 10 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. This follows on the heels of its first vertical night landing
on April 2 at the same location. The vertical takeoff capability is designed for moving the strike fighter over short distances in an emergency when a runway isn't available, but it is not seen as a combat feature due to its heavy use of fuel.
For the first time, a pair of F-35C Joint Strike Fighters have simultaneously refueled from a KC-130 tanker aircraft. The aircraft's afterburners burn an enormous amount of fuel, so an important part of most missions will be refueling before or after combat, or both. This is why the successful dual refueling is an important benchmark for the JSF family.
After strapping on its missiles
in February shortly after its first night flight
, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35A, completed its first in-flight weapons release on October 16 in a flight conducted over the China Lake test range in California.