The US Navy has declared that the aircraft carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C Lightning II, has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC).
The announcement comes shortly after the Navy’s first F-35C squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, completed aircraft carrier qualifications aboard USS Carl Vinson.
In order to declare IOC, the first operational squadron had to be properly manned, trained and equipped to conduct assigned missions in support of fleet operations. This included having 10 Block 3F F-35C aircraft, requisite spare parts, support equipment, tools, technical publications, training programs and a functional Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS).
Additionally, the ship that supported the first squadron had to possess the proper infrastructure, qualifications and certifications. Lastly, the Joint Program Office, industry, and Naval Aviation demonstrated that all procedures, processes and policies are in place to sustain operations.
“The F-35C is ready for operations, ready for combat and ready to win,” Commander Naval Air Forces, Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller, said. “We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our Carrier Strike Groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force.”
“We’re very proud of what our sailors have accomplished in the Joint Strike Fighter community,” CAPT Max McCoy, commodore of the US Navy’s Joint Strike Fighter Wing, said. “Their commitment to mission delivered fifth generation capability to the carrier air wing, making us more combat effective than ever before.
“We will continue to learn and improve ways to maintain and sustain F-35C as we prepare for first deployment.”
“The F-35C will revolutionize capability and operating concepts of aircraft carrier-based naval aviation using advanced technologies to find, fix and assess threats and, if necessary, track, target and engage them in all contested environments,” Rear Admiral Dale Horan, director of the USN F-35C Fleet Integration Office said. “Our focus has now shifted to applying lessons learned from this process to future squadron transitions, and preparing VFA-147 for their first overseas deployment.”
The F-35C is the final American Joint Strike Fighter variant to declare IOC and follows the USAF’s F-35A and USMC’s F-35B.