The cool photo in this post features an F-35B Lightning II in ‘beast mode’ assigned to VX-23 Salty Dogs giving major autumn vibes.
Known for its stealthy characteristics, the F-35 is a multirole platform that can adapt to any task it’s called on to complete.
When it comes to the extensive combat campaigns, the F-35 has an asymmetric advantage over 4th Generation aircraft.
The F-35 in fact can enter the battlespace on day one of the campaign, clearing the threats in the air and on the ground, and providing critical intelligence to commanders back at base or at sea. But it’s not just day one that counts.
The F-35 can reconfigure to carry the right combination of weapons to return any day of the battle it’s needed — in stealth mode or full beast mode. It’s built for the long haul — whatever it’s hauling. From providing critical intelligence, to defeating threats with a powerful air-to-air and air-to-ground payload, the F-35 has the range and flexibility to win, again and again.
In stealth mode, the F-35 can infiltrate enemy territory that other fighters can’t, carrying 5,700 pounds of internal ordnance. Once air dominance is established, the F-35 converts to beast mode, carrying up to 22,000 pounds of combined internal and external weapons, to return to the battle to finish the fight.
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) is NAVAIR’s largest flight test organization. The squadron’s mission is to support the RDT&E of fixed wing tactical aircraft by providing aircraft and pilot assets, maintenance services, safety oversight and facility support for these efforts. Primary areas of support include flying qualities and performance evaluations, shipboard suitability, propulsion system testing, tactical aircraft mission system testing, ordnance compatibility and ballistic efforts, reliability and maintainability assessments, flight fidelity simulation and flight control software development. The Squadron also provides Government Flight Representatives, test monitoring, chase aircraft support, and facilities for contractor demonstration, validation and development work involving tactical aircraft and associated systems.
The VX-23 workforce — officers (Navy, Marine Corps and foreign nationals), enlisted (Navy and Marine Corps), civilians and contractors — supports the aircraft maintenance, test planning and conduct, safety oversight and support of the squadron’s F/A-18A-D Hornets, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and T-45A/C Goshawk aircraft, and the on-going contractor demonstration efforts with F-35B/C Lighting II aircraft. VX-23 is also supported by hundreds of flight test engineers and technicians provided by the Integrated Systems, Evaluation, Experimentation and Test Department and various contractors.
The squadron conducts more than 3,000 flight operations annually, totaling approximately 4,400 flight hours, much of which involves high-risk flight test. VX-23 conducts operations, both shore based and shipboard, locally at NAS Patuxent River and operates and maintains the TC-7 catapult and MK-7 arresting gear test sites.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy
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