Marketwatch reports that the F-35C variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has passed its Air System Critical Design Review (CDR), which according to the report is "a significant development milestone that verifies the design maturity of the aircraft and its associated systems." Completion of the CDR allows the F-35C to move into the Low Rate Initial Production phase of the acquisition cycle.
As most DT readers certainly know, the F-35C will be the Navy's first stealth aircraft. (Remember the A-12?) The JSF is designed to replace the legacy Hornet and serve alongside the Super Hornet.
The Marketwatch report breaks down the variants like this: "While it shares its fundamental design with the F-35A (conventional takeoff and landing) and F-35B (short takeoff/vertical landing), the F-35C is specialized for the catapult launches and arrested recoveries of large aircraft carriers. It features 30 percent more wing area than the other two variants, larger tails and control surfaces, and wingtip ailerons -- all contributing to the precise slow-speed handling characteristics required for carrier approaches. The F-35C's internal structure is strengthened to withstand the punishment of repeated catapult launches and arrested recoveries on the carrier deck."
Although the Navy variant is heavier than the Air Force variant, it'll be flown by Navy pilots and therefore be able to kick the F-35A's booty in any 1-v-1 scenarios.
Bring it . . .(Gouge: NC)