An F-35C assigned to VFA-125 ingested debris from an aerial refueling basket while receiving fuel from an F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-103
The F-35C, the carrierborne variant of the Lightning II, has logged it first Class A mishap.
The pilot recovered the aircraft back aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).
Naval Air Forces Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Dave Hecht said that damage to the F-35C was reported as a Class A mishap – the most serious type for a military aircraft.
Noteworthy an incident is classified as Class A when an aircraft suffers more than $2 million in damage, is totally destroyed or involves a serious or fatal injury to the aircrew. The damage to the F-35 was above the $2 million threshold, Hecht said. A new F135 engine for the JSF costs about $14 million, according to the most recent contract award to engine builder Pratt & Whitney.
The Super Hornet was also damaged but was reported as a Class C mishap because there were no injuries and the total estimated cost of damage to the aircraft is between $50,000 and $500,000, Hecht said.
As we have already reported since Aug. 20 six F-35Cs (from VFA-125, a fleet replacement squadron, and VFA-147, an operational squadron) are operating aboard Lincoln alongside the Super Hornets, the EA-18G Growlers, the E-2 Hawkeye and the C-2 Greyhound as an integrated air wing.
The test offered the Navy a way to gauge how well the F-35 “integrates with the ship, how it interoperates with communications, data links, other aircraft, and then how we conduct the mission and tie into the other aircraft that are conducting that mission and how effective they are when they do it,” Rear Adm. Dale Horan, director of Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration for the Navy, explained to reporters during a media event last week aboard Lincoln.
Navy expects to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) for the F-35C in February 2019. Before achieving IOC, though, the F-35C has to conduct a formal initial operational test and evaluation event at sea, which is expected to occur in the fall. The Navy will also have to show it can man, train, equip and operate 10 F-35Cs at sea, along with establishing an appropriate support network to supply parts and personnel, ahead of declaring IOC.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur and Dane Wiedmann/Released
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com