F-35B makes first vertical takeoff


May 20, 2013

The F-35B making its first vertical takeoff

The F-35B making its first vertical takeoff

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Lockheed Martin has revealed that an F-35B fighter jet made its first vertical takeoff on May 10 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. This follows on the heels of its first vertical night landing on April 2 at the same location. The vertical takeoff capability is designed for moving the strike fighter over short distances in an emergency when a runway isn't available, but it is not seen as a combat feature due to its heavy use of fuel.

The F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) Lightning II is a multi-role strike fighter and the part of the most expensive weapons system purchase in United States history. It’s one of three F-35 variants built around a common airframe and is designed to use its lift fan and variable geometry engine to fly from aircraft carriers equipped with ski jumps, assault carriers, and small or damaged air fields.

The F-35B differs from conventional-takeoff F-35A and the F-35C strike carrier variant in that it has a lift fan for short takeoffs and vertical landings and, unlike the F-35C, it lacks the tailhook used for landing on strike carriers. Though the fan provides the advantages of working from short runways, the F-35B has only one-third the fuel volume of the F-35A.

The principal customers for the F-35B are the US Marine Corps, which has ordered 340 to replace the F/A 18 Hornet and the AV8 Harrier, the Royal Air Force, which is replacing the Harrier GR9, the Royal Navy, which will arm the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers currently under construction, and the Italian Navy, which will use the F-35B on its Cavour aircraft carrier.

The video below shows the F-35B making its first vertical takeoff.

Source: Lockheed Martin

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

How would this aircraft land on the Queen Elizabeth carriers if it lacks a tailhook?

Geo Lemay

That ought to warm up the tarmac.

Mark A

re; Geo Lemay

The F-35B is a STVL (Short Takeoff Vertical Landing) it land on 2 columns of air just like it just took off.


That takes one gutsy test pilot, the guy has my full respect!


Enormous amount of tech to develop the VTO and VL features, but i wonder what their practical uses are in the real world. The vid shows it doing its thing, but i was hoping to see it move forward after hovering. Also, does it use some kind of air braking system to stop before descending? That's a giant expense for when the pilot has to take a quick leak :)


"How would this aircraft land on the Queen Elizabeth carriers if it lacks a tailhook?"

Geo Lemay

The F-35B recovers the same way the Harrier II does, landing vertically.

"The F-35B is a STVL (Short Takeoff Vertical Landing)(sic) it land on 2 columns of air just like it just took off."


Correct acronym is STOVL.

AA Cunningham

Seems like it'd be better to pop the nose up and use the rear jets like a rocket to take off.

Matthew Harden

Surely it did this years ago?


This white elephant needs to stop and stop now. It is slow, expensive and could be replaced more cheaply by upgrading various US and ally jets or drones in existence. Most experts in all branches of the US armed forces deem in not needed. If its "supply chain" was not farmed out by "congressional district dictates" more than technical dictates it would have been gone long ago. Yet another reason the Military Industrial Complex is out of control. If they can sell enough "tech downed " versions to world wide allies and petro-dictators then perhaps it has a future, but not in the US military.

Gary Tucker

re; Matthew Harden

Tail sitters are harder to land and are very difficult to put on the wheels for a horizontal takeoff or need significantly more thrust than the maximum gross weight of the airplane. Workable in a point defense interceptor but impractical in an attack plane.


re; Gary L. Tucker

The F35B's performance is enough above that of the Harrier to drag the A&C models across the finish line. For the record they are ground attack planes not air superior fighters.


The F35B has a lot to live up to. The British Royal Air Force Sea Harriers made a right old mess of the Argentine Air Force who failed to shoot down even one of them.

11 IAI Dagger A 9 by Sea Harrier,[34] 1 Sea Wolf HMS Broadsword,[35] 1 SAM Rapier [36] 10 A-4B Skyhawk 3[37] by Sea Harrier, 3[38] Sea Wolf HMS Brilliant, 1[39] Sea Dart, 1[40] AAA HMS Fearless, 1[41] 20mm cannon Fire from HMS Antelope and 1[42] friendly fire 7 A-4C Skyhawk 2[43] by Sea Harrier, 3[44] Sea Dart, 1[45] Sea Cat from HMS Yarmouth, 1[46] combination Sea Cat/Rapier/Blowpipe/ 3 FMA IA 58 Pucará 1[47] by Sea Harrier, 1 SAM Stinger, 1 small arms fire 2nd PARA 3 A-4Q Skyhawk Navy 3[48] by Sea Harrier. (3rd damaged by 30 mm cannon fire, attempted to land at Port Stanley but the undercarriage was inoperative and the pilot elected to eject.) 2 Mirage IIIEA 1[49] by Sea Harrier, 1[50] friendly fire 2 B.Mk62 Canberra 1[51] by Sea Harrier, 1[52] Sea Dart 1 C-130E Hercules 1[53] by Sea Harrier

Dirk Scott
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