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.