F-35C Aircraft Rolled Out in Eglin AFB Ceremony - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

F-35C Aircraft Rolled Out in Eglin AFB Ceremony

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The F-35C aircraft, affectionately dubbed "Charlie" was rolled out in a special ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Tuesday.

The fifth generation jet is the latest in defense machinery and it's what some call "the future" of naval aviation.

"The F-35 is truly a revolutionary airplane. It's a game changer in the way our department of defense is going to deploy combat air forces," said 33rd Fighter Wing Commander, Col. Todd Canterbury.

At last it's here; ready for the Strike Fighter Squadron 101, known as "The Grim Reapers", to put it to work.

These naval aviators are folded into the 33rd Fighter Wing on Eglin Air Force Base, the first line of defense for all things F-35.

"The F35-C is the final complement to our fleet at Eglin. All F-35 pilots, maintainers and intelligence experts make first contact with the F-35 right here at Eglin Air Force Base," said Canterbury.

The US Navy will put the jet to use on aircraft carriers in potentially hostile waters, boasting technology that Lockheed Martin's Lorraine Martin said gives the pilot better advantages.

"This is a fighter aircraft that has been designed to be on an aircraft carrier, but can also go and deploy from the carrier and not be observed by radar," she said.

In addition, internal technologies synergize weapons systems of the existing fleet, allowing greater communication between wingmen and the fleet itself. It's something the squadron commander is excited about, as naval aviation turns the page on a new generation of fighters.

"As pilots come and learn how to fly this airplane, that'll become common place. We only get one opportunity to come out of the gate and introduce an airplane like this, a weapons system like this to the Navy. To be able to lead that effort, that's what I look forward to most," said Cdr. Frederick E. Crecelius.

Already the squadron, who call themselves "The Grim Reapers" after an original navy flight squadron, have logged 10 thousand flight hours--6 thousand just last week.