F-35Bs pair up for STOVL test

Lockheed Martin issued a handful of nice images yesterday showing a first for the F-35 programme: a pair of STOVL-variant aircraft taking off and then transitioning back for landing while in close formation.

F-35B pair TO

Conducted from the US Navy’s Patuxent River test site in Maryland, “the mission measured the effects the aircraft had on each other while in Mode 4 [LiftFan engaged and engine nozzle rotated downward], to ensure they can operate in formation safely in an operational environment,” the company says. With the US Marine Corps looking to declare initial operational capability with the type next year, that’s quite important.

F-35Bs Pax River

We’re still waiting in the UK for an expected first production order of F-35Bs for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Expected to be for 14 aircraft, the deal will provide replacements for the Tornado GR4s flown by RAF’s 617 Sqn; the Dambusters.

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8 Responses to F-35Bs pair up for STOVL test

  1. jetcal1 20 February, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Color me skeptical, but side by side does not appear to be as important as in trailing formation. (Shades of F-14 steam ingestion.)

    • luckygodzilla 21 February, 2014 at 3:44 am #

      Well you’d think with the thrust being diverted downward in Mode 4 that wouldn’t be much of a problem

  2. Sir Sapo 21 February, 2014 at 3:40 am #

    Tactical jets very rarely, if ever, fly in close trail formation in anything other than photo shoots…

    • jetcal1 22 February, 2014 at 12:57 am #

      I was thinking more a trailing takeoff.

  3. Craig Hoyle 21 February, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Have you been watching Top Gun again? ;)

  4. Reader 22 February, 2014 at 5:11 am #

    What a Waste! They’d have been better off modernizing and updating the Tomcat! Political weapons selection has NO PLACE in National Security issues

    • Magic3400 11 March, 2014 at 2:05 am #

      That’s funny, put our guys in a 50 year old fighter and have them fly them for another 30 years.

      Obviously, your son or daughter is not a Naval Aviator, I’m sure you wouldn’t want THEM in a jet with more Gs on it than snow flakes on an Alaskan mountain.

      We need a 21st century force, you don’t get that with 20th century weapons.

  5. Aaron Schram 27 February, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    It’s been my experience that tactical aircraft operate in close trail in many situations, especially recoveries and admin heavy weather penetration, but this is about mode 4 recoveries, the hover. The amount of cubic yards per second of air moving through these engines is staggering. It’s a big deal to have them operating close to each other. You’d almost never see Harriers this close due to heat and blast they create in a hover not to mention their almost impossible handling in slow flight making it very risky. These aircraft may have to operate in close proximity to each other around the boat and operating out of potentially small field expedient airfields. Just my two cents.

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