Lemoore jet fighter squadron is first in Navy to pass this milestone for the F-35C

An F-35C takes off from Lemoore Naval Air Station.
An F-35C takes off from Lemoore Naval Air Station.

A squadron at Lemoore Naval Air Station has a Navy first to brag about.

The Navy’s first operational F-35C squadron, VFA-147 based in Lemoore, has achieved “interim safe-for-flight operations certification,” an announcement Tuesday said.

“This is a first for the U.S. Navy’s F-35C program,” said Lt. Cmdr. Lydia E. Bock.

It appears that only two final steps remain for the squadron to be officially ready for combat missions.

The certification achieved last week means the squadron can operate as an independent squadron that is no longer tied to the training squadron at Lemoore for F-35Cs.

Next, the VFA-147 “Argonauts” will achieve full safe-for-flight operations certification once it completes its aircraft carrier qualifications. That’s expected by the end of this year.

Early next year, the squadron is expected to achieve “Initial Operating Capability,” meaning it can be assigned to combat missions.

Lemoore is the Navy’s West Coast master base for jet fighter aircraft. The squadron currently has three F-35C’s, and no longer has F/A-18E Super Hornets.

The Lockheed Martin F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, of which there are variants, is the nation’s newest generation of jet fighter aircraft.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold