F-35 Makes First Vertical Takeoff

Joint Strike Fighter program makes progress.

Flight test crews at Lockheed Martin have hit some milestones this month as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program slowly progresses. At the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland on May 10, the F-35B short-takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) Lightning II test airplane completed its first vertical takeoff — a flight that also included a vertical landing, the first of which was conducted well over two years ago.

Watch as the JSF pilot vectors 41,000 pounds of thrust from the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine downward to complete the vertical takeoff in the attached video.

The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the JSF, also made progress as it completed the high angle of attack (AOA) testing phase. For months, test pilots at Edwards AFB in California have taken the airplane through an extreme flight regimen, which according to Lockheed Martin, included “AOA beyond both the positive and negative command limits,” essentially meaning the most out-of-control situation possible. The AOA flight test program concluded successfully and the spin recovery chute was never deployed.