Video of F-35C jet’s first carrier-based night flight operations aboard aircraft carrier

F-35C Lightning II Conducts First Night Flight Ops During Developmental Testing aboard USS Nimitz

On Nov. 3, F-35C CF-3 piloted by Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson, conducted the very first arrested landing of the Joint Strike Fighter plane on a supercarrier.

Following the first successful arrested landings (the second came on the same day, with F-35C CF-5), the two jets of the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, performed a series of catapult launches, touch-and-gos and arrested landings.

On Nov. 13, at 6:01 p.m. (PST), the JSF had another first when it was launched for the first carrier-based night flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). After a series of planned touch-and-go landings, the aircraft came for an arrested landing at 6:40 pm.

Here’s an interesting video of the first night ops aboard a U.S. Navy flattop.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. During the first takeoff shown in the video, you can see the pilot activates the afterburner only after he has left the flight deck. In fact it’s so bright, it even illuminates the sea surface, as you can see in the video. Is that the usual takeoff procedure? I would imagine you would want full power output from the very beginning..?

    • Normally aircraft will take off with full burner but I’m guessing here based on the weight of the aircraft (i.e. completely unloaded except for a pilot and fuel), the enormous thrust of the P&W F135, and the F-35C’s extremely lift-friendly air frame it might not have been a requirement for the cat launch.

  2. Almost to a word(minus the new tech stuff) what everybody thought about the mighty F-4 Phantom………until it got into turning fights with MiG-17s over North Vietnam…….I hope the aircraft does well but just wanted to play devil’s advocate…..makes ya think

  3. The F-14D and the Super Hornet(in some configurations) launch(ed) using only full military power.

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