PATUXENT RIVER, Md., 26 June 2013. Squadron Leader Jim Schofield has become the first Royal Air Force pilot to complete a vertical landing of a Lockheed Martin F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) Lightning II military aircraft.
Following the flight, Schofield commented on the F-35B’s handling capabilities:
“The F-35 has truly revolutionized STOVL flying. With legacy types, such as Harrier, the pilot was always working hard to land the aircraft onto a hover pad or ship. Now with F-35B, at the press of a button the aircraft transforms into ‘short take-off or vertical landing’ mode whereupon the aircraft can take off or hover hands-off. This means pilots will require less training and operating the aircraft will be much safer than legacy types. It’s a fantastic aircraft to fly.”
The U.S. Marine Corps plans to declare Initial Operational Capability with the STOVL in 2015.