Steam catapult launches F-35C

The F-35C completed its first steam catapult launch July 27 marking another milestone toward initial ship trials in 2013. Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Launch and Recovery Equipment) Brandon Barr used a TC-13 Mod 2 test steam catapult, representative of current fleet technology, launching F-35C test aircraft CF-3 into the sky.

“It was great to be able to be a part of this milestone in the F-35C test program,” said Navy test pilot Lt. Chris Tabert.

CF-3 is the designated carrier suitability testing aircraft, assigned to the F-35 integrated test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

“Our first trip here to Lakehurst went very smoothly because of the true collaboration and hard work from the integrated team,” said Tom Briggs, government air vehicle engineering manager. “We look forward to another productive visit and staying on track for initial ship trials.”

In addition to the catapult launches at varying power levels, the integrated test team will execute a test plan over three weeks to include dual-aircraft jet blast deflector testing and catapult launches using a degraded catapult configuration to measure the effects of steam ingestion on the aircraft.

The F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants. It has larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for slower catapult launch and landing approach speeds and deck impacts associated with the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. The F-35C is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to eventual delivery to the fleet.

Source: NAVAIR

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