Marine pilots made history last week by flying a state of the art aircraft, the F-35B Lighting II.
According to defense contractor Lockheed Martin, “the most lethal fighter characteristics – supersonic speed, radar-evading stealth, extreme agility and short takeoff/vertical landing capability (STOVL) – have been combined in a single platform; the F-35B.”
Covering the first operational test trials aboard the amphibious ship U.S.S. Wasp, Aviation Week senior editor Amy Butler recounts the aircraft’s ability to hover and perform a vertical landing. “During OT-1, actual Marines — not test overseers — are operating the six F-35Bs that embarked May 18 for the tests; this includes pilots and maintainers,” Butler wrote.
During DT (developmental testing), we got to see firsthand the first vertical landing and short takeoff at sea, but in OT-1, the Marines are demonstrating a cadence to operations to gain confidence the single-engine, stealthy fighters can assimilate into an air wing on board the amphibious ship, which will include other platforms: the MV-22, CH-53E/K, AH-W/Z and unmanned air systems among them.
This is all leading up to what the operational debut of the F-35B, slated in July.
“The F-35 Lightning II is the most versatile, agile and technologically advanced aircraft in the skies today, enabling our Corps to be the nation’s force in readiness, regardless of the threat, and regardless of the location of the battle,” Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said to WTRK. “As we modernize our fixed-wing aviation assets for the future, the continued development and fielding of the short takeoff and vertical landing, the F-35B remains the centerpiece of this effort.”
Wait for it … Things get really interesting around the 1:40 mark …