Eglin AFB celebrates a new milestone with the arrival of the Navy’s first F-35C Lightning II.
The F-35C is the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter program. That means it can take-off from and land on aircraft carriers.
"This is the Navy variance, it's got some different capabilities in the wing size to allow it to land on the carriers, beefed up landing gear to, once again, allow it to handle the rigors at sea and life on a carrier," said 33rd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Todd Canterbury
The plane was built by Lockheed Martin and flown from Fort Worth to Eglin Saturday.
The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin trains pilots to fly the Joint Strike Fighters.
"This brings a whole new level of capability to the striking force of the United States Navy and our carriers," said VFA-101 Commanding Officer Capt. John Enfield. "Integrating this airplane with our legacy airplanes will give us a combat capability we've never seen before that'll carry us for the next 30 to 50 years."
The F-35 joint strike fighter program is the most expensive aviation program in Defense Department history. Earlier this week, Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told a Senate panel the program is on track.
The program, begun during President George W. Bush's administration, is about 90% through the development program and 40% through flight testing.