WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy version of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter jet met 100 percent of the threshold requirements set for a first round of sea-based testing aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, Navy and Pentagon officials said on Monday.
The carrier variant of the new warplane completed 124 catapult takeoffs, 124 arrested landings, and 222 planned “touch and go” landings off the coast of San Diego, California, according to data compiled by Navy testers.
Two landings were “bolters,” when a jet fails to catch the heavy duty cables used for arrested landings, forcing it to circle around again. But those events were planned for testing purposes, officials said.
Altogether, two F-35 jets used for the tests completed 32 flights and achieved 458 unique test points, according to the Navy data.
Lockheed is developing and building three F-35 models for the U.S. military and U.S. allies, a $399 billion endeavor that is the most expensive weapons program in the world.
The Navy’s F-35C model has longer wings that fold up to save space and it carries more fuel and weapons. Two more sea-based testing periods are planned for the F-35C in 2015 and 2016 before it can be declared ready for initial combat use in 2018.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Gunna Dickson