Video: F-35B Conducts First Ever Vertical Take Off

F-35 VTOLockheed Martin released the video of the first ever Vertical Take Off conducted by an F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) Lightning II test aircraft. The test was completed May 10 at Naval Air Station Patuxen River, Md.

The historic, albeit brief, flight occurred just a month after the Joint Strike Fighter program completed the first ever F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing during a night-time test mission. the F-35B is the Marine Corps version of the Joint Strike Fighter.

The vertical take off is not a combat capability, however, it is a requirement for the fielding of the F-35B fleet. The vertical take off capability will used rarely, likely only to move the aircraft’s position on a flight deck. The majority of the time, the F-35B will complete a short take off.

The Joint Strike Fighter program first executed a vertical take off with the X-35B in 2001. While the vertical take off will be rare, the pilots will not perform arrested landings. The F-35B will complete vertical landings, which Lockheed has completed about 400 so far this year.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • zoomanager

    wait this is sopose to be news? after so many years and bilions of dolars, F-35 finaly takes off verticaly?

    • J4rH34d

      The X version took off vertically before taking off STOL or conventionally back in 2001 or so. They figured if it it could VTO it could land that way, too.

      This is the production model.

    • Josh

      STOVL: Short Take Off Vertical Landing
      Where in there does it say “Vertical Take Off?” It’s not VTOL.

    • NRS

      The F-35 was never designed for Vertical take off. It was never part of the design requirements. Lockheed achieved vertical takeoff on their own, they were not sure it would actually achieve it themselves, but the test pilots early on told them it had enough power to reach vertical take off. they made it happen years ago with on of the first test planes. When they did, Boeing cried foul because it was not part of the design requirements from the Pentagon. They release it now because it is with the actual production run aircraft.

      The drive shaft technology was acquired from Russia who utilized it in a test plane but never made it to production in the Russian air force.

  • Taylor

    I can’t get enough videos of the F-35s or the Ospreys doing their thing. Vertical takeoff and landing is really something.

  • tee

    The British are very worried about the F-35B in Hot, Humid Weather.
    Defense-Aerospace “Navy Carrier Jets ‘Can’t Land In Hot Weather’
    . http://www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/rel
    .
    . So just how is it going to work for the Marines in the Pacific??

    • blight_

      Low pressure and hot and humid are trouble for almost any aircraft. Though I suppose the question is do STOL turboprops, helicopters and tiltrotors (or legacy Harrier) do better than JSF-B?

      Anyways:
      http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/

      —————–
      19 The Department will have to actively manage technological risks to the
      cost-efficient delivery of Carrier Strike in adverse weather conditions. The
      STOVL variant is unable to land vertically on to a carrier in hot, humid and low pressure
      weather conditions without having to jettison heavy loads. The Department advised
      decision-makers of this risk but stated that it is confident that the solution it is developing,
      called Ship-borne Rolling Vertical Landing, will be ready by 2020 (paragraph 3.10).

      3.10 An important enabler of the UK’s STOVL Carrier Strike capability will be the ability
      to conduct Ship-borne Rolling Vertical Landings (SRVL). This landing technique will be
      necessary where a conventional vertical landing is less likely to be possible without
      jettisoning large weapons or fuel load when in hot, humid or low pressure weather
      conditions.15 At present the technology is not proven with redesigns required to the
      carrier deck and aircraft software. The capability will be required for operations by 2020
      and the Department included a provision to complete development as part of the cost of
      reverting to STOVL. The Department is confident it will develop the technique within the
      required timescale

      So there you have it. If you don’t kill something, don’t carry it back home in high heat and low pressure…

      • tee

        Just like the cost will come down like LM’s $60-7-Million a piece price tag, I’ll believe it when I read the GOA reports.

        • blight_

          The NAO is the equivalent of our GAO.

          “The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament.

          Our audit of central government has two main aims. By reporting the results of our audits to Parliament, we hold government departments and bodies to account for the way they use public money, thereby safeguarding the interests of taxpayers. In addition, our work aims to help public service managers improve performance and service delivery.

          The Audit and inspection rights are vested in the head of the National Audit Office, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG). The staff of the NAO carry out these tasks on his behalf.”

    • RunningBear

      They are Brits, they didn’t invent it therefore it’s suspect! I am certain that it’s not currently hot and humid cruising up and down the channel. They can’t afford fuel to travel much further than the local scenery. :)

      • Beno

        Morning from the UK :)

        FYI the entire additional VTOL parts for the B versions is Roll Royce made. So if it dont work its our fault. I think you can take that as a garentee.

        As far as funding goes. You might want to look at the state of your own finances before making any wild claims ?

        I get the feeling youll be seeing ALOT more Royal Navy Escorts to USN carrier groups in the near future.

        • random

          Well the LiftSystem was designed by Lockheed Martin then Rolls-Royce built it, iirc.

      • LPF

        Seeing as Us brits got the only proper working V/STOL fighter , which doesnt require alift and its still in service and has seen combat, lets say , we know what were talking about on the subject you numpty!

  • mpower6428

    not worth the asking price.

  • Rob

    It would be awesome if they could fly from being stationary in the air
    and not just move up and down.

    • RunningBear

      they can!

  • Hunter76

    “The vertical take off is not a combat capability”. Sounds like a free bail-out clause for Lockmart.

    “The vertical take off capability will [be] used rarely, likely only to move the aircraft’s position on a flight deck.” A whole lot of money, weight, and equipment to stick in a high performance aircraft for something that will be rarely used, and not for combat purposes.

    • J4rH34d

      The difference between empty and able to take off vertically is about a 30% fuel load or 6500 pounds of other stuff. Not real useful but some useful. The Harrier is more like 10% fuel load or 1000 pounds of other stuff. How far do you think either can get if they must leave in a hurry?

    • AJP

      Think of it like this:

      Imagine the F-35B has already started it’s landing process. All of a sudden, there’s some issue on the deck and the airplane needs to transfer to a different ship. Tests have shown that the engines have enough thrust for a safe landing, but is it sufficient enough to increase the aircraft’s altitude?

      If you can design an aircraft with the functionality to do vertical take-offs, then the above situation is not a concern.

  • USS ENTERPRISE

    So, uh, it took “Lockmart” 12 YEARS to release the first test? I have seen it VTOL in video before.

  • Bobby

    Vertical takeoff is very rarely employed with a VTOL aircraft. Although it can do it, doing so consumes too much fuel and is very limiting on weapons load. So, the standard combat flight profile for VTOL aircraft is short takeoff and vertical landing. That’s far more efficient and combat effective, and the F-35 offers leap-ahead capability in this flight profile…….

    • Steve B.

      @Bobby, This was what I was wondering. The British design their carriers with a ramp specifically to help rolling take-off. Do they ever really use the vertical take-off capability ?.

      OTOH, you might well need that ability if you ever want to re-fuel from a heli-capable frigate/other ship that can currently handle helicopters, thus no rolling take-off. But how often and is it just as easy to assume a slight limitation in either fuel or weapons load in that scenario ?.

      • Riceball

        I believe that the original intent behind VTOL was that you could park the plane anywhere and be able to use it as an airfield as well as the idea that if your runway gets too cratered up to use you could always take off vertically to either get into action or to move it another airfield.

      • Beno

        VTOL was used in the falklands when additional fighters were shipped via container vessel, then flown from there to carriers.

        but yes, originally it was a battle field capability for hidden basing in forests in the ground attack roll.

  • RunningBear

    F-35B VTO to a waiting V-22 tanker is bringing new thoughts to flexibility!

  • Amicus Curiae

    Some useful information that is never reported is what weight was the aircraft and what was the atmospheric condition (i.e. temp). Until that is revealed, I can’t make an assessment on whether this jet is a success. I am looking for the capability to wave off (arrest the sink rate) a vertical decent at a weight of 38,800 lb on a 90 degree day. That would impress me. Anyone have that info? Anyone…(crickets chirping)?

  • wmcritter

    I’m not in the military so obviously I may be missing something, but why are we doing STOVL at all? I can’t see any use for it in modern warfare. I try to imagine any scenario in which it might be needed, and I can’t come up with anything. This is not WWII where we are island hopping and working from short, unprepared runways. Our air power operates from large established bases with long runways, or from super carriers. If a carrier can’t reach, or a base is too far away, we have fleets of refueling planes to extend our range. And if all else fails, and no plane can reach, we have cruise missiles that can. So in what realistic scenario would we ever need STOVL? The Brits need it to fly off their mini-carriers, but we don’t.
    It seems like an incredible waste trying to maintain a weapon that has no place in modern war.

    • garr

      your not in the military but you are a voter who needs to be informed. Have you noticed how cliquish this site is. If your not one of ‘them’ you either get ignored or removed.

      If is a good question and I too would like a response. PLEEEEASE!

    • J4rH34d

      The Marines have found that long runways and super-carriers are not always available. And the Gator Navy has several mini-carriers smaller than the Brits.

    • Seradonius

      It’s not just about whether or not VTOL/STOVL has a need within the American forces, but whether our allies need it. Keep in mind the F-35 was designed with the intent to be sold to allies, some of which would have use for vertical take-off capabilities. Even then there is merit to established VTOL/STOVL fighters in that they can both lift off faster, and maintain the runway clear for regular fighters. Of course, in an ideal scenario (such as the ones established by US military policies), such a feature would have a rare use; but it’s always wise to keep your options open in case shit goes south.

    • Steve B.

      There are certainly many area’s on the planet where basing infrastructure is just no available or nearby. And there are finite numbers of tankers. The plan to replace our fleet of KC135’s is really, really delayed and the result is there will be resulting limitations in tanker capabilities in the future. An excellent example of the issues of non-existent basing as well as limited tanker capability is Mali, where the French had to rely on US tankers to conduct operations. The basing in Mali is limited in terms of ramps space as well as fuel and support infrastructure, placing a lot of limitations on French air power as they attempt fight off a terrorist backed take-over of the country. They probably would have been very happy to see a squadron of Marine AV-8’s in country. They couldn’t ask the Brits’ who retired all theirs.

    • blight_

      If the Brits didn’t build the Harrier, the only options would be helicopters and fixed wing turboprops. I’m betting helicopters and STOL turboprops would *not* have done well in the Falklands against land-based Skyhawks.

      VTO is interesting, but compromises payload and range.

      In principle, STO/SL is the base minimum. But the question is how do you get a heavy jet aircraft to short takeoff and short-land? If you intend to trap, then the aircraft must be built to take repeated traps. That weight cuts into everything else. So your option is to design lighter aircraft that can trap, or just not trap in the first place (VL).

      Or if you don’t intend to trap…then how do you ensure that you can stop an aircraft in a very reproducible manner on a short flight deck?

    • Anomaly

      Valid question, but the US military is moving forward into a Pacific strategy, that does involve small islands just like it was in WWII. Also with more reliance on special forces I would love to see them (spec ops) to have more of a mobile capacity for local air power without having to bring in the large support required for properly maintained airfields.

  • Meatpopsicle

    Funny to see this released now. I guess Lockheed doesn’t want NG stealing the show with their X-47B.

  • The Achilles Heel of a Jet Aircraft is the ability to just get off the ground. This thing needs no ground, it just goes up and forward. Or it just goes forward and up. Which ever is necessary or most practical. This aircraft will be in the air when others are helpless on the ground. Possibly this aircraft will land on ground, not possible for anything but a helicopter to land on. It adds to the armamentarium of our national security. Airports, runways, are now optional.

    However I do wonder about the operation in sand, heavy dust, etc.

    I believe it is worthy of development, even if it is expensive. An Ace in the Hole.

    • blight_

      I think you’re using the phrase Achilles Heel a little loosely. That said, any heavier-than-air object must fight physics to get off the ground.

  • The Old Bear

    “An the Oscar for best Special Effects in a short film goes to Lockheed Martin for the vertical take off of the F-35B”

    2014 Oscar awards.

  • Danny

    So can the F35 actually transition to forward flight after a vertical take off? Or does it just hover and come back down?

    • blight_

      I believe the demonstrator did just that; it was a critical part of selecting the LM design over the Boeing one.

  • SFP

    It would be awesome if they could fly from being stationary in the air
    and not just move up and down.

  • SFP

    Vertical takeoff is very rarely employed with a VTOL aircraft. Although it can do it, doing so consumes too much fuel and is very limiting on weapons load. So, the standard combat flight profile for VTOL aircraft is short takeoff and vertical landing. That’s far more efficient and combat effective, and the F-35 offers leap-ahead capability in this flight profile…….

  • ben maluti

    the vtol is a rare occasion to view and it sounds miraculous to witness an aircraft lifting itself up and down vertically,what a power

  • abvisor

    the interest and commitment in such a craft may not just be in its ability to VTL/VL but the availability of runways in future conflict at home or abroad.