F-35s hit vertical-landing milestone

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Editor’s note: I’ve decided to keep track of the development of the F-35 Lightning because of the tremendous economic importance the progress of this program represents for Tampa Bay and Florida.

The Marine Corps?F-35B Lightning II test jets have completed all the vertical landings they needed to satisfy officials about going ahead with testing aboard a ship later this year, the Navy announced Wednesday via DoDBuzz. The fighters have done 80 percent of the short takeoffs they need. (We?e waiting on the exact numbers of landings and takeoffs.) Naval Air Systems Command said the body of tests that its F-35Bs have passed shows that they?l perform as advertised at sea and then eventually when they join the operational fleet.

?ndividually, these are great milestones for the aircraft and their crews, but when you put them all together with the experience we have on [test aircraft] BF-1 and BF-2, we?e proving that STOVL flight in the F-35B is really maturing,?Lockheed test pilot David ?oc?Nelson said in a NavAir announcement.

Currently there are four F-35B test aircraft at NAS Patuxent River, and all four have now flown in STOVL mode with airborne conversions between STOVL and conventional take-off and landing (CTOL), slow take offs, slow landings, and vertical landings, a significant sign of maturity as only test aircraft BF-1 is primarily tasked for STOVL flight envelope expansion.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.