September 4, 2015 (by USN) - F-35C Lightning II carrier variant aircraft assigned to the "Grim Reapers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, homeported at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada, on September 3rd.
Two F-35C Lightning II aircraft before a break maneuver with an F/A-18E Super Hornet from NAS Lemoore on April 14th, 2015. The flight is part of a six-day visit by the Grim Reapers of VFA-101 to NAS Lemoore, the future basing site for the F-35C. [USNavy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Darin Russell]
The evolution is part of a 12-day VFA-101 detachment focused on the integration of F-35C with the Fallon Range Training Complex. This visit will also allow coordination among VFA-101 and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center to refine tactics, techniques and procedures of F-35C as it prepares to join the carrier air wing.
"F-35C Lightning II will be an absolutely critical addition to the carrier strike group's integrated warfighting package," said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Naval Air Forces. "With its stealth advantages, it penetrates threat envelopes, detects and fuses information from many sources, and links that fused picture to other strike group aircraft and ships."
The visit also provides pilots and aviation maintenance personnel at NAS
Fallon, as well as local dignitaries, an opportunity to become familiar with the aircraft through capabilities briefs and a static display.
"It was great to see so many interested Sailors," said Lt. William Snead, a pilot with VFA-101. "Because Lightning II joint strike fighters will operate alongside (F/A-18E/F) Super Hornets starting in 2018, I think there was a lot of interest to see what it looks like up-close and get a preview of it sitting beside the Super Hornets that it will be operating within the air wing of the future."
The F-35C is a fifth generation stealth fighter that provides the all-sensor fusion and long range combat identification capability, networked to the rest of the air wing, strike group and Joint Force. With a broad wingspan, reinforced landing gear, ruggedized structures and durable coatings, the F-35C is designed to stand up to harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of fighter capabilities to the fleet.
The F-35C will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings and joint task forces.
The Navy's future aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S Sea Hawk helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft.
Although VFA-101 is the Navy's newest fighter squadron, they possess a rich heritage. The original Fighter Squadron (VF) 101 was established in 1942 and flew various aircraft including the F-14 Tomcat. When the F-14 was retired in 2005, VF-101 was disestablished.