Sources say that test pilots at NAS Patuxent River,Maryland, performed the first Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)vertical take-off on 10 May.
The US Marine Corps’ short take-off vertical landing (STOVL)variant has always had a requirement to perform vertical take-offs right fromthe outset of the JSF programme. However, the capability is not emphasizedbecause the F-35B would not be able to carry a tactically significant payloadin that configuration. Operationally, the USMC envisions its F-35Bs performing short rollingtake-offs carrying a full load of ordnance and fuel and only performing avertical landing once the aircraft returns to the amphibious assault ship orexpeditionary airfield.
The concept of operations is similar to those currentlyflown by the USMC’s Boeing AV-8B Harrier II squadrons. Though the Harrier is often touted as avertical take-off and landing machine, it normally flies a similar shorttake-off and vertical landing profile for the overwhelming majority of its missions.
The original X-35B prototype demonstrated the ability totake-off vertically in 2001.
Below is an image of the F-35B hovering–but this is not the aircraft that performed the VTO.