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F-35B completes first vertical landing at sea


October 4, 2011

An F-35B Lightning II makes the first vertical landing on a flight deck at sea (Photo: U.S. Navy/Seaman Natasha R. Chalk)

An F-35B Lightning II makes the first vertical landing on a flight deck at sea (Photo: U.S. Navy/Seaman Natasha R. Chalk)

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The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has successfully made its first at-sea vertical landing. With Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Fred Schenk at the controls, the short-take-off-vertical -landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 touched-down on the deck of the USS Wasp on October 3 as part of an initial two week ship-trial period in which the aircraft's take-off and landing capabilities will be evaluated along with its ability to integrate with the ship's flight deck operations.

"The first at sea vertical landing is a huge milestone," said Marine Corps Col. Roger Cordell, military site director for F-35 test and evaluation at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. "We're still early in this test period, and we expect to learn a lot more, but this is a great step toward delivering the capability to the fleet."

One of three variants of the JSF family, the F-35B Lightning II completed its first on-shore vertical landing in March 2010. Two further test periods are planned in which further environmental data will be collected using recently upgraded instrumentation aboard the amphibious assault ship.

While vertical landings made so famous by the Harrier Jump Jet (the F35B will replace Marine AV-8B Harriers and F-18 Hornets) are nothing new, it's still amazing to watch the awesome power and control these aircraft display - check out the video of the first F-35B landing at sea in the video below.

An overview of the F-35 JSF program can be found here.

Source: US Navy.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan

Man the F35 is great.

Todd Dunning

What an amazing leap in technology and tactical advantage for the US Joint forces.


I like the plane but I don\'t think it will do the close air support near as well as the A-10. I think we should build a new batch of A-10s. Despite the fact that Republic Aviation went out of business there has got to be a set of blueprints somewhere.


I used to watch the Harriers take off and land at Cherry Point when I was in the Corps. This thing looks much more stable than a Harrier.

Facebook User

You\'d think they might name the country who developed this. Are we to assume it\'s British since it\'s replacing the Harrier?


dear Slowburn

There is a follow-on for the A-10 here (see link below) is a picture of it. It takes one of the A-10\'s engines and the Vulcan Cannon. As far as I know only the prototype was ever built. Among it\'s many cool features is the ability to turn fast enough to use it\'s cannon to shoot down jet fighters that are harassing it. It had all composite construction, about half the size and 1/4 the weight. (http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/8526381/images/1268326822082.jpg) Peace Jeff

Jeff Dodson

I like the 2 billion dollar aircraft - sucking in one seagull and \"Urrrkkk BANG!\" down he goes.

I think I will wait for all the crash vids on Youtube...

Mr Stiffy

re; Jeff Dodson

It\'s cute but it can not have an engine torn from the airframe, lose half the tail, and ten feet trimmed from a wing and still return to base. Nor does it carry near the ordnance load.


Jeff, that was something that was an afterthought. No other aircraft can do the job the A-10 does as well as the A-10 does it. It operates literally at treetop level. The cannon it carries is NOT a 20mm Vulcan, but the 30mm Avenger cannon. Something that was developed specifically for it\'s mission.

The US Army threatened the Air Force that it would fly the A-10 for itself, if the Air Force didn\'t. The Air Force has little love for the A-10. While the F-35 is a great aircraft, I agree with Slowburn, it will not be able to do the Warthog\'s job. Build more A-10\'s.

We sold the French a bunch of A-1 Skyraider\'s and regretted it when we really needed CAS (Close Air Support). The DOD tried to say that the F-16 would take the A-10\'s job during the Kosovo conflict. We saw how well that worked out. They got shot down.


re: Jeff Dodson

The design you refer us to, I believe, is one of Burt Rutan\'s and the company named \"Scaled Composits\"

Rather an outstanding design, but suffers the \"Not Invented Here\" syndrome - not originated by the Pentagon, Boeing, Grummond, Lockheed - big corporate interests - the Military/Industrial Complex.

You know, an outsider without \"Lobbying Power\"!

I know, \"So - what\'s new ?!\"

signed: The Pinko Liberal


re; Bilbal

It was not designed for the USAF either, it was intended for small countries with small budgets. Most of which wouldn\'t look at it for the same reason that the F-20 wouldn\'t sell; it wasn\'t prestigious enough.


good to see that the US has eventually caught up with our British 60s technology with VTOL :)

Chas Hughes

The first knock against the Harrier was it wasn\'t super sonic capable. American companies helped upgrade the Harrier design and make it go supersonic - though it\'s a bit like \"anime physics\". Put enough power behind it and anything will fly. ;)

The Harrier\'s front lift comes from ducts tapping into the compressor section of the engine. The outlet nozzles rotate rearwards to provide some of the thrust. It also has a pair of rotating nozzles near the back for the rear lift and thrust. Compressor air is also used for the Reaction Control System it uses for maneuvering in hover. The non-straight path of the exhaust and using compressor air all the time drastically reduces the efficiency.

The F-35 uses an articulated exhaust nozzle that gose from a straight aft path to bending 90 degrees down and for front lift it uses a shaft driven fan that\'s only running during hover. In forward flight the lift fan is disengaged and smooth doors cover it so there\'s no additional drag like the Harrier\'s front nozzles have.

The second knock against the Harrier has always been \"not invented here\". It\'s (mostly) a UK designed aircraft.

Gregg Eshelman

Am I the only one that sees a CGI plane?

Gabriel Jones

You Warthog proponents seem to forget that the A-10 was never designed for carrier operations. No reinforced airframe for catapult launches or arresting hooks. No uprated landing gear. No folding wings.


re; Gadgeteer

There are three variants of the f-35 and only the C model is designed for catapult Launches and arrested landings. Incidentally its wings don\'t fold either. The Navy & Marines do not currently have any planes that match the A-10s performance.

re; Gabriel Jones

You\'re delusional.


America doesn\'t fight wars (oops, I mean bomb anywhere it likes without Congressional consent) without an aircraft carrier. STOVL is for punk nations like South Africa and Ireland or the punkest of them all, Australia. This plane is a waste of money, but then again, it\'s the U.S. military, so who cares about money?


@Gabriel Jones

Stealth planes always look like that. They\'ve got that weird smoothness and a few sharp angles that makes them look like they just came out of a late 90s video game.

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