F-35B Aircraft Fly In Formation In Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing Mode

Lockheed Martin photo by Michael D. Jackson.

Two F-35B aircraft fly in close formation while in short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) mode for the first time last week. Pilots Peter Wilson and Dan Levin flew the test jets in STOVL mode, also known as Mode 4, with the F-35B LiftFan engaged and engine rotated downward. The mission measured the effects the aircraft had on each other while in Mode 4 to ensure they can operate in formation safely in an operational environment. The U.S. Marine Corps plans to declare Initial Operating Capability with the F-35B next year.

The F-35B will replace the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II fighter aircrafts currently in service with the United States Marine Corps (USMC). It will also replace GR7, GR9 and Sea Harrier aircraft deployed in the fleet of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.