NAS LEMOORE – The Rough Riders of VFA-125, along with Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9) embarked aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in early December for the first fleet day and night carrier qualifications in the F-35C Lightning II.

Though there have been a handful of carrier detachments in the F-35C to this point, this was the initial complete day and night qualification in the F-35C. Additionally, VFA-125 successfully embarked its deployed Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) onboard CVN-72, a major milestone for upcoming Operational Test and Evaluation for the F-35C. ALIS enables the F-35 to seamlessly integrate operations, mission planning, aircraft maintenance and supply procedures into a single, deployable system.

VFA-125 was re-established Jan. 25 as the U.S. Navy’s F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) based out of Naval Air Station Lemoore. Four pilots from VFA-125, three from VX-9 and two from VFA-101 each completed 16 arrested landings onboard CVN-72 for a total of 144; each of them earning their day and night carrier qualification in the F-35C.

The pilots on this detachment were seasoned carrier aviators, with more than 3,000 arrested landings combined experience. After two weeks of dedicated workups, the pilots were ready in substantially less time than required in legacy platforms. VFA-125’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Locke commented, "Thanks to the tireless work from the VFA-125, VFA-101, VX-9, CVN-72 and the Lockheed Martin Team, this detachment was able to successfully complete numerous milestones that has set the foundation for the fifth generation capable Carrier Air Wing. We could not have achieved these goals without the dedication and expertise from everyone involved. We look forward to working with the CVN-72 team throughout 2018.”

After completing their qualifications, the pilots remarked at how the advanced flight control systems of the F-35C enabled increased performance while conducting carrier landings. This, coupled with the integration of Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS), added to pilot situational awareness and decreased workload. 

USS Abraham Lincoln is currently the first aircraft carrier to be upgraded and outfitted to support the fifth generation platform. Although the F-35C is relatively new aboard CVN-72, the crew was extremely professional and quickly adapted to the new aircraft moving on and around the ship. Their willingness to learn requirements, procedures and intricacies of a new aircraft were critical to the success of the evolution.

Through the hard work and professionalism of USS Abraham Lincoln, VFA-125, VFA-101, VX-9 and Lockheed Martin teams, the F-35C is one step closer to projecting fifth generation air power from the sea.

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