The Marine Corps F-35B just completed its first Operational Test detachment to the USS Wasp,
and thankfully, all the jets and their crews came home unscathed. It was the first time a contingent of more than two F-35Bs have been to the boat, and seeing six relatively large stealth fighters do their thing on Wasp’s deck is pretty damn cool.
During two weeks the half dozen F-35B’s were aboard the ship, pilots and maintenance crews demonstrated different aspects of the jets’ capabilities and needs. These included everything from night flying operations to loading and unloading weapons into the F-35B’s tight weapons bays. Pilots even got a little dogfighting in between deck operations cycles. In all, 108 sorties were flown and 30 maintenance demonstrations were executed in relation to the jet’s ability to operate aboard the ship.
A real-life cruise aboard a ‘Gator Navy’ flattop is still years away for the F-35B (2018 to be exact). Still, the USMC wants to declare the jet operational this summer.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.