The Navy’s carrier-based version of the stealthy F-35 fighter has just turned in what look to be the most positive results ever reported for initial testing at sea. The results were so good that two weeks of scheduled testing were completed three days early with 100% of threshold test points accomplished. For the first time ever, a new carrier-based plane performed night operations during its initial round of developmental testing — operations that in the past have always been left to later rounds. This is welcome news against the backdrop of recent warnings from Pentagon leaders that potential adversaries are closing the gap with America’s joint force in warfighting technology, because neither Russia nor China has anything remotely as capable as the F-35. Two more rounds of testing for the Navy variant lie ahead in 2015 and 2016, but the sea service can now be confident that the F-35C (as it is designated) will be ready for initial fielding with the fleet in 2018. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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