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Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Launches and Recovers F-35s for First Time


According to information published by the U.S. Department of Defense on December 15, 2021, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) launched and recovered an F-35C Lightning II aircraft for the first time.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 F-35C Lightning II on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (Picture source: U.S. Department of Defense)


The F-35C Lightning II is the U.S. Navy’s first low-observable carrier-based aviation platform.

The F-35C variant has larger wings and more robust landing gear than the other variants, making it suitable for catapult launches and fly-in arrestments aboard naval aircraft carriers. Its wingtips also fold to allow for more room on the carrier’s deck while deployed.

The F-35C also has the greatest internal fuel capacity of the three F-35 variants. The F-35C carries nearly 20,000 pounds of internal fuel for a longer range and better persistence than any other fighter in a combat configuration.

The F-35 has two internal weapons bays with four weapons stations. The two outboard weapon stations each can carry ordnance up to 2,500 lb (1,100 kg), or 1,500 lb (680 kg) for F-35B, while the two inboard stations carry air-to-air missiles.