Navy's 1st F35C Lightning II Squadron Surpasses 1000 Flight Hours
The "Grim Reapers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the Navy's first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant squadron, reached a milestone in November 2014 by surpassing 1,000 mishap-free flight hours in the F-35C.
As the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-101, homeported at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, trains Navy aircrew and maintenance personnel to fly and repair the aircraft.
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"I am incredibly proud of the 'Grim Reapers' for accomplishing this milestone," said Cmdr. Frederick Crecelius, VFA-101's commanding officer. "With each additional flight hour, the men and women of VFA-101 are paving the way for the future of Naval Aviation."
The unit became the Navy's first F-35C squadron after receiving the aircraft June 22, 2013, from Lockheed Martin, and completed the first check flight, Aug. 14.
"The 1,000-hour milestone not only demonstrates the incredible teamwork of VFA-101," said Crecelius. "It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the capabilities of the aircraft and how this fifth-generation fighter will enhance the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of the carrier air wing."
While VFA-101 remains involved in preparations for the F-35C to achieve initial operational capability in 2018, the F-35 Lightning II Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, completed its first phase of developmental testing for the F-35C aboard an aircraft carrier Nov. 14. During the initial testing phase, the aircraft demonstrated exceptional performance throughout its sea trails aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
The F-35C is a fifth-generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. The F-35C will complement the capabilities of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which currently serves as the Navy's premier strike fighter. By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of the F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler, E-2D Hawkeye, Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike air vehicles, MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft.
Since June 1942, "Grim Reapers" has served as the name used to identify three different squadrons - Fighter Squadron (VF) 10, VF-101 and now VFA-101 - flying various aircraft, including the F4F Wildcat, the FG1-D Corsair, the F-4 Phantom, the F-14 Tomcat and currently the F-35C.
Source : US Navy - view original press release