OSLO – The scheduled deployment of the carrier-capable F-35C for its first sea trials will take place as planned, according to senior program officials.

Speaking after the Joint Strike Fight Executive Steering Board (JESB) meetings here, Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, program executive officer for the F-35 program, said plans to deploy two F-35Cs onto the USS Nimitz off the U.S. West Coast were still on track. But he admitted there was still work to do to have the aircraft ready.

"We have some work to do as we lead up to that point in November, and that work we are doing now will decide if both airplanes will go to the ship [and] will be capable of doing arrestments and catapult launches," Bogdan said.

He suggested that the second aircraft, CF-5, may not conduct carrier launches and landings, but may have to remain on deck for logistics testing.

"The November deployment will happen, most likely with two; whether both airplanes are fully capable of doing all the work remains to be seen because we have a little more work to do there," he added.

Preparations for the trials have been slowed by the restrictions placed on the F-35 fleet following a June 23 engine fire that seriously damaged a U.S. Air Force F-35A at Eglin AFB, Florida. Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney says it is close to confirming the root cause and delivering a solution to solve the blade rubbing issue in the F135.

Jeff Babione, vice president and deputy general manager of the F-35, told Aviation Week that only a series of flight trials involving abnormal carrier approaches – dubbed the "shake, rattle and roll" tests – as well as electromagnetic interference tests now remained before the aircraft could embark on the ship.

The trials will see test pilots intentionally landing the aircraft at high sink rates, with roll to the right or left, nose or tail down to test the landing limits of aircraft in adverse conditions on land first, before the aircraft goes to sea.

"The testing should finish up next week, once complete parts and equipment will be staged out to the West Coast," Babione said.