Navy F-35 flight test aircraft CF-1 approaches the TC-7 catapult at Naval Air Station Patuxent River March 22. With U.S. Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matt “Opie” Taylor at the controls, CF-1 completed functional checks and performed the first test hookup of the F-35C to the catapult.
The test team also investigated an issue discovered during a preliminary fit check with the launch bar where it did not lower far enough to engage flight deck hardware for the catapult hook up.
That test resulted in an improvement made to the launch bar so it will have a greater range of motion. The overall ship compatibility test phase, including catapult launches, is scheduled to begin this year.
Shipboard testing of the F-35C aboard a CVN-68 class aircraft carrier is scheduled to take place in 2013.
The F-35C Navy variant and F-35B Marine Corps variant are undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River in preparation for eventual delivery to the fleet.