The Navy said a fighter squadron took the first F-35C on a 1.5 hour maiden flight from the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The Lockheed Martin variant has larger wings than other F-35 stealth fighters. It employs folding wingtips and other designs the company says make it suitable for naval aircraft carriers.
Buss said the interim safe-for-flight designation means the F-35C has entered into real service with the U.S. Navy. It will serve to complement the Navy's existing premier strike fighter, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The naval squadron received its first F-35C from Lockheed in June. The Navy said Lockheed technicians would teach service personnel how to maintain the aircraft to ensure and sustain flight integrity.