US Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) launched and recovered an F-35C Lightning II aircraft for the first time on December 12.
The F-35C carrier variant is the future of weapon system integration and lethality that provides multimission power projection from the sea.
The launch and recovery of F-35Cs from GHWB also has special significance for the ship. The ship’s seal features the silhouette of three aircraft; a P-3 Avenger aircraft, the plane president George H.W. Bush piloted in World War II, the silhouette of an F/A-18, and an F-35C.
At the ship’s commissioning in 2009, this represented the past, present, and future of Naval Aviation. This week, that idea of the future of Naval air warfare became reality with more than a hundred launch and recoveries of the Lightning II.
The youngest of the Nimitz-class of aircraft carriers is also pioneering the trials of the service’s first carrier-borne unmanned aerial refueler, which was loaded onto the GHWB for its carrier trials earlier this month.
While being the youngest in its class, GHWB is not the first to accommodate F-35C on its flight deck. USS Carl Vinson is currently operating in the Asia Pacific as the first carrier to deploy with F-35C, and the new carrier onboard delivery aircraft, the CMV-22B Ospreys.
“I am proud of the work our team is doing each day to operate at sea and to increasethe warfighting capability and capacity of Naval aviation,” said Capt. Robert Aguilar, commanding officer, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). “While we relentlessly prepare to deploy and carry out the nation’s business, we are also maintaining an open deck to support Fleet-wide training and qualifications. We know our mission, and we will complete it.”
USS George H.W. Bush is underway after completing its most complex overhaul, the drydocking planned incremental availability (DPIA), which took two years to complete.