U.S. Navy brings forward F-35 operation date (IOC) IDRW.ORG The U.S. Navy said it planned to deploy the carrier-based version of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter six months earlier than previously planned. The decision to bring initial operation forward to the July-September period of 2014 could affect a campaign by Boeing Co to promote further purchases of its F/A-18 aircraft. “The Navy has moved the initial operating capability date of the F-35C from fiscal year 2015 to the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2014,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Callie Ferrari told Reuters on Thursday. The U.S. government fiscal year ends Sept. 30. “The initial operating capability will be the first time a squadron of F-35Cs will be deployable,” Ferrari said. Lockheed is building three variants of the F-35, including a conventional takeoff and landing version for the Air Force, a short-takeoff version for the Marine Corps and the C model to be used on Navy aircraft carriers. Boeing has offered the U.S. Navy a discount price if the service commits to buying 150 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets over the next four to five years. The Navy is wearing out its existing F/A-18s faster than expected, prompting some experts to predict it could face a fighter shortfall before the F-35 arrives in large numbers.