The carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flew for the first time with external weapons June 27. Navy test pilot Lt. Christopher Tabert flew CF-1 with inert AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on port and starboard pylons to measure flying qualities and aircraft vibrations. The F-35C carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with its larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear to withstand catapult launches and deck landing impacts associated with the demanding aircraft carrier environment. F-35C is undergoing test and evaluation at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., prior to delivery to the fleet.
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