The US Navy Declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with its fleet of F-35Cs on February 28th, 2019. The milestone is a significant step on the road to the first scheduled F-35C deployment in 2021.
The US Navy joins the US Marine Corps and US Air Force now as the third and final US service to declare its F-35s mission ready and combat capable.
Six F-35 operators are now IOC, to include the USMC, USAF, US Navy, Israeli Air Force, Italian Air Force and the United Kingdom.
“We’re very proud of what our Sailors have accomplished in the Joint Strike Fighter community,” said CAPT Max McCoy, commodore of the U.S. Navy’s Joint Strike Fighter Wing.
“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 addition of F-35C to existing Carrier Air Wing capability ensures that we can fight and win in contested battlespace now and well into the future.”
Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Dale Horan, director, USN F-35C Fleet Integration Office said:
“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,” adding “This accomplishment represents years of hard work on the part of the F-35 Joint Program Office and Naval Aviation Enterprise. 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.”