Lockheed Martin has registered two more key test points for the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing version of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Test pilot Graham Tomlinson first decelerated the BF-1 test aircraft to a hover about 150ft (50m) above the runway at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on 17 March. Then, on a separate flight later the same day, the aircraft was rotated on take-off in less than 300m and a speed of 100kt (185km/h).

Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF BF-1
 © Lockheed Martin

Both flights mark critical test points as the F-35 programme continues a long-delayed process to achieve a vertical landing. The first such test point was previously scheduled in mid-2009, but has been delayed because of engine malfunctions and slower than expected progress on flight tests.

Despite the delays, the F-35B is expected to enter service with the US Marine Corps in fiscal year 2012.

Source: Flight International