Video: F-35B Conducts First Vertical Takeoff and Landing

Here’s a video of the F-35B Lightning II recently completing the first short takeoff and vertical landing during a night-time test mission.

Marine Corps test pilot Maj. C.R. Clift conducted the flight April 2 to gather data on the helmet and lighting conditions for night-time operations, according to an April 5 press release. The F-35B is the variant of the Lightning II designed for use by the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as F-35 international partners in the United Kingdom and Italy.

 “The completion of this test event demonstrates the F-35B is one step closer to delivering a critical capability to the U.S. Marine Corps and F-35B partners in the United Kingdom and Italy” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “There is plenty of work to be done and progress to be made, but we’re on a solid path forward.”

About the Author

Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • DNP

    Looks like the canopy was open during the landing…is that typical for testing (or am I mistaken)? Thanks.

  • USS ENTERPRISE

    Can’t wait to see all the “UFO” reports this is going to cause. I imagine bunch. Well, anyways, I thought the F-35 had done trials of this at sea? I mean, if anything, its more dangerous on a carrier than a runway. Maybe a PR stunt?

    • free america

      Not at night.

    • romeo

      UFO are silent. At least that’s what the reports often say.

    • Mark Kircher

      maybe propaganda for NK?

  • blight_

    This feels like a kickstarter.

    For 1B dollars we’ll send you a video of our JSF doing vertical landings…

  • majr0d

    Some will be bummed the plane didn’t crash.

    • BlackOwl18E

      You wouldn’t happen to be referring to me by any chance?

      • David

        he sure is

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      *Cough* Russia, NK, China, Iran *Cough*

  • Anonymous

    So here’s a question: how do they cut off the thrust out of the tail feathers so quickly on a turbine engine?

    • STemplar

      They flip the off switch…..

    • Andre

      Thrust is exponential to rpm so at 6,000rpm a jet engine might only put out 1000lb of thrust but at 18,000rpm might put out 19,000lb of thrust. If you map that on an x,y chart it is not a straight line. So when they are just about to touch down you might have 19,000lb of thrust coming from the jet exhaust at 18,000rpm and about the same from the lift fan, until it touches down in which case you spool down from 18,000rpm to 6,000rpm and your thrust drops to 1000lb.

      • Dfens

        If that were true, they wouldn’t use N1 as an engine operating parameter.

    • kemasabe

      One word…..Magic.

  • marc27

    the vertical takeoff version is just a waste of money since most of the fuel is burn on just the takeoff and cannot carry the a lot ordnance plus is more expensive to maintain.

    • blight_

      Agreed, but compare the -B against the other alternative: helicopters.

      It fills an awkward space where it’s probably better than the alternative, but would lose a paper dogfight against a sleek -A type JSF. Helicopters would fare worse though, but we have them today.

      I think it’s sad that for the half-century of dawdling with VTOL fixed wing aircraft, we’re not quite sure how to do it cheaply. I believe the LiftSystem is a brilliant piece of engineering that would do old Skunk Works proud: but shoehorning it into the -B? Yeech.

      Maybe LM will spin a SVTOL aircraft out of JSF if it tanks. Or Rolls Royce will take it and run with it; and get BAe to build a new Harrier out of it. The US will put money into it. We sell the UK Tomahawks, Apaches and Tridents and bought their Harriers: we are 100.00% confident that our interests align such that we have no fear of exchanging hardware.

    • Free america

      More expensive to maintain than what? Its range is unlimited.

    • STemplar

      Short takeoff, not vertical. Vertical landing.

    • Guest

      It does waste money in both ways. But it also allows a country to put supersonic, multi-role, stealth, combat aircraft 5 miles away from an enemy border, with no runway nearby. And by doing this you eliminate refuels, actually using LESS fuel. These two things are certainly worth extra in both dollars and tactics.

      • BlackOwl18E

        Third world countries could buy artillery for dirt cheap that could kill something from 5 miles away. The F-35B will need to be launched from a distance if it is to have an effect and stay out of the reach of the enemy weapon systems. It doesn’t have the range to do anything effective without being refueled.

    • Tiger
    • ronvan

      Excellent point! While I Army I had the opportunity to talk with a British Harrier pilot and asked him this same question. His answer was exactly as you have stated. As soon as they take off they are looking to be refuled from the air.

  • Warg

    Nice!

    Late like 8 years

  • Tarin Feather

    I’m an asphalt runway contractor, and I don’t like this one bit.

    • LTCOL Angus

      thank god there is no asphalt aboard ship, and concrete on most military tar mats and runways.

    • Guest

      Why not, do you not preform repairs?

    • guest

      Never seen an asphalt runway on a ship or any military installation and I have been on alot of both

  • Mitch S.

    Is this the “First Vertical Takeoff and Landing” or
    the first NIGHT “First Vertical Takeoff and Landing”?

  • STemplar

    Pretty video. Couple questions.

    -How’s the helmet mounted cueing system working or not?

    -What’s the status of the software?

    -What’s the status of the fuel dump?

    -Is the afterburner still burning off the stealth coating?

    -What’s the fix for the lightning strike problem going to cost?

    -What’s the status on the crap IPP lifecycle hours?

    -Can I get an IOC,? Comin up on 12 years and $85 billion-ish spent, I think taxpayers deserve one.

    Nice snake oil video. Can we get some press releases about the littany of problems identified in the QLR? Can someone in the defense media pin these guys down for some answers, either in the Pentagon or LM?

  • Capt. Jack

    Capt. Dolt Lummox of the Big-E is back demonstrating his youth and inexperience. When will the crew of the Big-E eject the mooncalf from the cockpit? STARFLEET!

  • Romeo

    I will be excited once I see the plane flying sideways in any direction.
    But most of all silent, which probably would requires energy from a different fuel source, like “Plasma”.

    I thought short take off has been around for years in the carrier…
    So has vertical take off and landing.
    Please someone correct me if I am wrong.

    • Guest

      Harriers fly sideways, backwards and in any other direction. They can also spin inside the same footprint. I’m sure the F-35 does too and one day you’ll be able to see it and get excited. Although they can’t go very fast in those directions of course.

      • USS ENTERPRISE

        I don’t know about that. The Harrier does that with its two thrust vectoring nozzles. Its allows a “vif” or “viff” (kinda like a cobra, except with all the flamboyance taken out). The F-35 has the rotating the nozzle in the back that can point down, and of course the lift fan. But they are place in the center line of the aircraft. So I doubt that it can actually spin around like a helicopter. But I could be wrong.

    • Chris

      Yes, but the Harrier Jumpjet cannot go supersonic. The F35 similar to the F22 and the Typhoon on the other hand can (including cruising since it does not need an afterburner to maintain that speed).

  • Jim Johnson

    I “assumed” people on a tech site would be tech savvy. Heads up! The open “doors” behind the canopy are the air inlet for the vertical thrust fan. The exhaust nozzle can be articulated to swing from vehicle parallel thrust to a vertical thrust position. These two technologies are what makes the F35B a VSTOL fighter. It’s only predecessor was the almighty harrier whose capabilities the F35B is to do in spades.

  • Opus

    They are already in the process of standing up the first squadron of the F35Bs here in Yuma, VMFA-121 the Green Knights. They recently performed the first vertical landing outside of a test environment down here.
    Roughly a month ago they even had one on display for the air show as well as some of the pilots and future pilots to chat with the people, that did surprise me.

  • Nick

    Wow, It can vertically land at night now. This is not news. I hate this plane with a passion. To bad it didn’t crash and burn like my tax dollars are developing this less than half ass POS!

    • crackedlenses

      Majrod was right…..

  • BlackOwl18E

    I’m too tired for my usual spiel on the F-35. I think I’m going to try saying something different. How about, “Great job Lockheed Martin! That’s a really cool video!”

  • elportonative77

    Is the vertical takeoff going to be part of the B model’s everyday life or is this just something they did to prove they could? Is the B model supposed to be based at airfields where even STOL takeoffs and landings are not possible?

    • STemplar

      Short takeoff, vertical landing, and that is how it will operate from amphibs.

  • USS ENTERPRISE

    Just wondering, I know it can take off in a short distance (off relatively smaller US carriers and other country’s carriers) and land vertically, but can it take off via a ski-jump? I don’t see why not, I mean it looks like it has enough ground clearance.

  • Belesari

    Here owl let me try.

    WOW THAT SO AWESOME! Omg so its the best fighter in the world right! How many planes can it shoot down right now in combat? Like 10!?

    What do you mean no F-35 will be combat ready before 2016 or 2017? These cost how much?

    $220,000,000 dollars!

    Wait thats for the B right? Ok good it is. How much are the others?

    The A is over 140 mil by the time it will be combat capable at least!

    The C is more expensive than the B!

    Oh well at least I know the F-35 is the best attach aircraft in the world capable of going toe to toe with the best our enemies have to offer and even our allies!

    ……..What do you mean its not a very good fighter…. >: (

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Mph. Well, I don’t think ’10’ aircraft have the capability to shoot it down. In fact, its stealthy-ness will keep it safe from any Sukhois and MiGs. And really, most chinese aircrafts are copies of these, so really, they are literally little to no competition here. 220 million? Over exaggeration? Yes, I see the sarcasm.

  • Holdon McGroin
  • Dfens

    “We need… an acquisition system… that rewards cost-effectiveness and efficiency, so that our programs do not continue to take longer, cost more, and deliver less than initially planned and promised.” — Chuck Hagel, Sec. of Defense (http://www.pogo.org/blog/2013/04/20130406-hagel-may-be-a-secretary-of-defense-reforms.html). No wonder McCain had such a vendetta against this guy. If he walks the walk, he’ll kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Imagine that, a procurement system that responds to the needs of the guy on the front line instead of the needs of a multi-national defense corporation. Oh the humanity!

    • Thomas

      Every high-up acquisition person says that when they start the job, and usually a few times while they serve.

      They’ve been saying that for 40 years.

  • big Al

    that wasnt the canopy open but a panel that allows extra air to gain more thrust for the engines…zero speed forward means not enouh air to air intake soo. good thinking huh? They put it on top so it wont suck dirt /Foreign objects into engines..

  • Dave

    What are the excuses offered in rebuttal to the concerns raised in this article: http://nation.time.com/2013/03/27/marine-f-35-jum

  • DALE RICE

    The Marines traditionally are an elite ground unit, they require less people to get the job done, like the other small fighting units, Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Green Beret,
    with UAV’s and other unmanned aircraft already built, why is the Pentagon and the US
    Government adding to the national debt with costly aircraft? We have the A6, B1B, F117A, B2, F114, F22 OSPREY, (etc), more than enough to get the job done, enough said. A former Marine, and my wife would agree, she was in the USAF.

  • JC
  • bigchief

    No carrier arrested landing yet, why not. Too heavy and slow has been the consensus thus far, and too expensive. Tailhook unable to catch the wire on a carrier due to design flaw. Purpose built aircraft are the way to go, this is a game changer for USMC, but not the answer for USAF and Navy.

  • SailorEd

    The VSTOL Harrier was able to defeat F-15’s and F-16 ‘s in Air to Air combat that test was done using VFR (Visual Flight Rules) Due to the ability to quickly change it’s direction due to the Vector Thrust system. The F-35 should be able to do better. Oh, the Harrier would to a short roll to takeoff of LHA’s LPH’s etc with a full load of bombs, etc.

  • Lee Steele

    Government adding to the national debt with costly aircraft? We have the A6, B1B, F117A, B2, F114, F22 OSPREY,
    A-6: ancient. B-1B: old design. F-117A: out of service. B-2: limitied usefulness and few of them. F-114: HUH? No such animal. F22 OSPREY: The V-22 Osprey is NOT a fighter! It’s a transport. Wiki can be your friend. Research is a good thing.

    • Steven

      obviously those are typos and a missing comma, don’t be a turd. Now you look stupid.

  • publius

    Over budget, behind schedule, and under performance. Otherwise, no problems, right? The program needs to stop immediately, and the govt needs to re-evaluate their needs. An aircraft you cannot afford is not the aircraft to defend the freedom of the world.

  • Jack Haesly

    The thing that is so disturbing about this aircraft is the cost. I heard the first 187 units cost 340 million dollars each. I also heard 2447 of them will be built in the range of 180 million dollars each. That is insane… if true. Especially when you consider the plane’s only purpose is a killing machine.

    In that regard, the B2B bomber cost 2 billion dollars each and we have about twenty of them. Two have crashed. We never hear about the cost to keep those turkeys in the air.

    Despite how capable the F-35 B may be, no wonder American citizens have no universal non- profit health care and many of our released soldiers from the two illegal wars are wandering homeless on our inner city streets.

    To my way of thinking, the F-35 is a problem ridden piece of star wars junk the American people cannot afford. More over, none of these flying gold bricks has even been tested in combat. In fact, since we now have efficient killing machines in much lower cost drones, The F-35 craft will probably never earn their keep.

    • Thomas

      Jack buy your logic we’d never had a man in space much less land on the moon.

      And the F-18, F-16, F-15, and F-14 would never have entered service.

    • Observant

      Jack:
      “I heard the first 187 units cost 340 million dollars each.”

      You have them confused with the generally superior F-22, which is already operational. As an aside, we should have cut the F-35 buy and built twice as many F-22s. The F-35 is ending up costing just as much per copy, when it was originally to be a “low-cost” F-16 like aircraft.

      “I also heard 2447 of them will be built in the range of 180 million dollars each. That is insane… if true.”

      I doubt that many will be built, but it may turn out that way.

      “Especially when you consider the plane’s only purpose is a killing machine.”

      Ah, your true stripes are revealed! Almost all military aircraft are “killing machines”. Believe it or not, they are a major factor in keeping our world generally peaceful.

      “Peace through superior firepower.”

  • JohnC

    Another technologically wonderful product of the the military-industrial complex that we cannot possibly afford, will contribute to our colossal national debt, but will purchase anyway.

  • Gringo

    Hey all of you guys out there,this is the best to kill people.
    And we the peace seeking nation build this monster.
    Do we have sense of humor or not…

  • R7alph

    Amazing how many think they are experts and clearly know so little about military aircraft. Things like the F-117s are all retired as are F-14s. Osprey is not a fighter, but a superior transport/cargo special purpose. So far no F-35s lost. Very careful and extensive testing. Much simulation. By this time we had lost 10 B-58s and crews. Back then it was go try it out. Now it is much more prediction and validation. They’ll get it done whether all you arm chair know-it-alls criticize or not. All junior amateurs.

  • Rex

    The only Question is can this plane go toe to toe with the Harrier? Payload? Delivery? Maneuverability? Range? Speed? Serviceability?
    I have seen Harriers do some Amazing feats.
    I have seen an F35 take of and land in the same distance needed for a super cub. Nothing as impressive as the Harrier.
    Let’s see what we paid for!
    It’s time to put up or shut up!
    If the F 35 can’t beat the planes it is trying to replace in actual combat, it’s time to pull the plug.

    • Steven

      And it’s already outclassed by its potential adversaries. :(

  • mark a meide

    well it look billion dollar jet stay with it joe meide mile city mo

  • USMC_ATC_SSgt

    Carolina Lawn Dart Mark II

  • egumpher

    Very well done. Than you Lockheed Martin. Our solders deserve this technology. Remember that the only reason we created a federal government was for military and monetary reasons…….so all the states could fight a common enemy….not to give our money away to entitlement programs……..money well spent…..

  • Bob G.

    I live a couple miles from Shaw AFB in S.C…..Home of the 20th Fighter Wing, employing some 80 F16CJ’s!
    Look foward to seeing the F35’s up close, in action! I think that’s about another 4 years off for us.

  • Jerry

    The real question is how long will it take to melt/burn through a runway when hovering low? I noted he dropped the last few feet to avoid overheating the tarmac. Just a few seconds would melt asphalt and a few more would blast concrete. Wont be taking off from unimproved runways for sure. Certainly wont be doing VTOL with a full ordnance load.

  • knots

    I guess it’s better than a purely vertically landing

  • Gordon Rowell

    Mr. Rice,
    For better or worse, the VSTOL F-35 is supposed to be to replace the harrier. It’s designed to take off from short amphibious carriers. We haven’t had the A-6 for decades. The Marine Corps is not JUST an elite ground force. They are a self contained combat package that can rely on itself for support. I don’t have a particular liking for this aircraft but it does fill a niche. The Air Force has a habit of ordering more and better than it needs. The Marine Corps has to take what it can get. The harrier was known by the nickname “North Carolina lawn dart” for quite awhile. I’m just hoping that they work the bugs out before duplicating the record with this plane.

  • someone

    The Government should have gone with Boeing’s version of the F-35. If memory serves, they liked it better but Lockheed’s proposed price tag was lower. It is a common tactic for Lockheed to bid huge contracts significantly lower then realisticly possible. They do this because they know once the Government is on the hook, they will pay more to save face rather than drop them and go with the runner up. Trust me, I’ve personnaly seen it from the inside.

    • Steven

      I concur

  • Rawlo

    that actually isn’t the Canopy. It’s more more for the airflow induction for it to hover. Airflow comes in through the top and directs it beneath the plane like a hovercraft. I think.

  • nik

    The F-22 can still fly circles around this heavy maneuverable piece of junk. Scrap the F-35 and make a multirole F-22. The F-22 has already proven that it can fly and do everything the F-35 still has to prove.

  • russellwmcconnell

    I’m not an engineer. I wish I were. I love science and engineering. Instead, I am a theologian and philospher, and it seems to me that that spectacular cost-overruns, technical short-comings, and disappointing deliverables on metrics are no big deal as long as everyone feels good about their individual opinions. Isn’t that where we are in America today? Please don’t delude yourself into thinking that they weakening of our love of truth that spawned the scientific method isn’t now also affecting the outcomes of our modern science.

  • mayrockwood

    Very cool.

  • wdan

    how about a final landing and NO future takeoff’s?…spend our $$ elsewhere more productive…this gas hog cannot carry any ordinance to speak of and not very far at that…how many generals and admirals will be working for LM and other contractors after they retire and we continue to pay for this pig?

  • Quantaray

    The F35 and F22 were supposed to the be the pinnacle of manned fighter jets. A lot of people think that manned fighters are obsolete. The navy has unmanned aircraft testing their landing capabilities on carriers now.

    The range of missiles and now laser weapons means that dogfighting is soon to be a thing of the past. The next world war is happening right now, and is the dream of science fiction writers from previous centuries. A state of constant, low level perpetual warfare. How much of our freedoms should we give away to protect our precious lives?

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      -Lasers are still in development stages. The YAL-1 was excellent, but still needed work

      -Missiles with long range can cost millions, and can be used ONCE

      -unmanned fighters still need to perfect their abilities in air combat; a pilot in a plane reacts faster, and much more efficiently, than one that sits in a chair on the ground, at least, for right now.

  • w. roginski

    The harrier was a descent aircraft with many improved versions over the years—where are they?

    • guest

      They are all 40 years old and ready(overdue) to be retired, just like A-10s, F-15s, KC-135s and most other aircraft in our inventory. KC-135s and B-52s are more than 50 years old, some are being flown by the grand-sons of original pilots.

  • Blastjet

    After all is said & done this acft will be around for a looooong time, & will pay for itself exponentially if small thinkers don’t mess it up. As America changes its roll on the international stage it will finally come to the conclusion that it’ll be the Navy that best protects the national security and economic interests of this country. Land-based tactical war-fighting capabilities, specifically air-to-mud fighter resources, are of very limited value. We most need ensured sea-lines of communications, and the ability to securely strike the littoral regions of the world. The only way to do this for the foreseeable future is with carrier-based aviation, so the LAST thingnwe can afford to do is forgo the Navy/Marine F-35 versions. However, it will be the Alpha version that will actually pay for the airframe, through foreign sales, and foreign buyers have been historically loath to buy land-based fighters from the USA that the USAF doesn’t operate. So, a few squadrons of Alphas are needed, but the cast majority of the U.S. buy of the system must be for the super and assault carriers. Most importantly, this system absolutely should be an integral part of a cohesive grand strategy for the out-years, one that defines what America really must do to ensure its security. I’m inclined to think this means a marked change in the size and composition of its Army (the Army’s right, it needs no more Abrams!), a reduction in USAF forces (cut the number of fighter squadrons in half, and get rid of the B-1), and, using money from these cutbacks, increase naval forces. There’s a lot more to be done, but this is enough heresy from a retired USAF aircrew dog.

  • Lt.Col. James

    What is it’s range after burning fuel for short take off? Is it worth putting on a carrier?

  • tomG

    didnt harrier jets already do this? 50 years ago?

  • i saw the test on pbs 10 or so years ago.

  • Kidd

    um the Harrier just takes off straight up, lands the same way and has been around since the 70’s. This one has to move to take off?

  • chris lecce

    naysayers get a grip. since when is new technology and innovation easy and cheap?
    where did the technology for the computer you are whining on come from?
    the space program other people whined about.

  • LOL…

    I cant believe how stupid our gov’t thinks we are. They have a different propulsion system these days, one that doesn’t involve fuel. This is a retarded aircraft

    The real systems will be presented in the future.