Unconfirmed Report Surfaces After Navy Cancels Super Hornet Demos for 2019.
According to an unconfirmed report that surfaced today on the “ThisIsFlight.net” blog page, the U.S. Navy is going to announce a new F-35C demonstration team for the 2020 airshow season.
The report, while unverified, precedes any official acknowledgement by the U.S. Navy of an F-35C demonstration.
Here below is the source for the report. As you can see, the U.S. Navy has denied the “announcement”:
The Navy has made no such announcement.
— flynavy (@flynavy) June 27, 2019
While aviation fans would be thrilled to see the unique wide-winged U.S. Navy variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fly demonstrations, it would be remarkable if the Navy were to devote F-35C assets to a demonstration schedule as early as 2020. So far, less than 30 U.S. Navy pilots are rated for carrier operations in the F-35C, making availability of flight crews a concern.
The U.S. Navy, is the ain service in the world to operate the unique F-35C naval variant (the other one is the U.S. Marine Corps), declared Initial Operational Capability for the F-35C on Feb. 28, 2019. Because of the increased demands of catapult launch and arrestor hook landing onboard aircraft carriers along with other mission requirements unique to the Navy, the F-35C has been the last Joint Strike Fighter variant to achieve operational status.
U.S. Navy F-35Cs have made appearances at airshows already as static displays, but have not flown a formal demonstration routine yet. The U.S. Air Force fielded the first-ever F-35 military demonstration team early this year with the new F-35A Demo Team. The Air Force’s F-35A Demo Team has been highly successful in leveraging social media to deliver the Air Force’s message about careers in the Air Force and some of the flight capabilities of the F-35A. Dealing with worldwide operators, the Italian F-35 has also recently started taking part in airshows with a dynamic routine.
The unconfirmed story about a possible Navy F-35C demonstration for 2020 surfaces only a day after news about the cancellation of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet TACDEMO 2019 remaining schedule was officially released. The Navy Times reported today that, “As the East Coast Super Hornet Fleet Replacement Squadron, the mission of VFA-106 is to provide the fleet with superbly trained replacement aircrew to support fleet readiness. This mission will always take priority over displaying the remarkable Super Hornet across the country. While unfortunate, the remainder of the TACDEMO schedule for 2019 has been cancelled. Our dedicated, volunteer, air crew and maintainers must focus their efforts on training the next generation of Super Hornet aviators and flight officers.”
While news of the Super Hornet demonstration schedule being cancelled is confirmed, and the rumor of a new, possible U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II has begun to circulate, this template of information overlays well with some possible cooperative public affairs effort by the Navy timed with the 2020 release of the Hollywood sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick” on June 26 of next year.
A report on the credible news outlet U.S. Naval Institute News by journalist Megan Eckstein published back on August 27, 2018, said that, “Hollywood’s latest take on naval aviation, Top Gun: Maverick, will likely pair the Navy’s new Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters alongside older Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, in the sequel to the 1986 blockbuster. A film crew from Paramount Pictures was aboard aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) the same time the Navy began launching F-35C jets off the ship interchangeably with F/A-18E-F Super Hornets as an integrated air wing.”
The USNI report went on to say that film producers would not comment on any possible role of the F-35C in the upcoming film.