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Navy takes F-35C Lighting II to the skies

Aug. 15, 2013 at 2:16 PM

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy said the F-35C Lighting II fighter was granted interim safe-for-flight status as the "business end" of the nuclear powered aircraft carrier force.

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.

"The Lightning II strike fighter represents the future business end of our nuclear powered aircraft carrier force," U.S. Navy Vice Adm. David Buss said in a statement.

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.

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