F-35B makes first operational vertical landing
The first operational squadron of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets passed a major milestone with first short take off and vertical landing at a marine base in California, the Pentagon announced yesterday.
The single seat, single engine fifth generation fighter aircraft with short takeoff/vertical landing capability (STOVL) capabilities enable it to be operated under varied environments by allowing operations from major bases, damaged airstrips, remote locations and a wide range of air-capable ships.
"The first STOVL flight for an F-35B outside of the test environment was another milestone achieved by the Marine Corps and the Green Knights today here at MCAS Yuma," said Major Richard Rusnok, an F-35B Lightning II test pilot, who conducted the first short landing and takeoff.
"The F-35 program and specifically the F-35B have made significant progress to make this possible," he added.
At $96 billion, F-35 is the Pentagon's most expensive and by some measures most ambitious ever. It has been under development by Lockheed Martin since 2001.
As the squadron expands its operations and end strength, they will continue revolutionising expeditionary Marine air-ground combat power in all threat environments through the use of MCAS Yuma training ranges in Arizona and California.
The entire fleet of the USAF F-35 also known as the Joint Strike Fighter was recently grounded after cracks were found in the engine turbine blades in one of the fighters.
Earlier in 2011, the US had said it was prepared to offer the F-35 for sale to India, after the F-16 and F/A-18 'Super Hornets' lost out in the Indian MMRCA competition.
Differently from previous fixed wing capabilities across the Department of Defense, the integration of Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and coalition F-35 Lightning II aircraft on a common platform will provide the dominant, multi-role, fifth generation capabilities needed across the full spectrum of combat operations to deter potential adversaries and enable future aviation power projection, the statement said.
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