The F35B Lightning II has successfully completed another major milestone as the fifth generation stealth fighter was launched into the skies from a ski-jump on Friday 19 June.
The land-based test — conducted by the F35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force — took place at Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland, US.
The joint U.S.-U.K. test team will continue phase I of ski jump testing this summer in anticipation of eventual U.K. aircraft carrier operations.
Peter Wilson is the BAE Systems test pilot and ski jump project lead for a highly diverse cadre of technicians, engineers, administrative support staff and test pilots based at the Pax River ITF and in the UK.
For more than 30 years, the U.K. has used the ski jump approach to carrier operations as an alternative to the catapults and arresting gear used aboard U.S. aircraft carriers.
The shorter UK carriers feature an upward-sloped ramp at the bow of the ship. Curved at its leading edge, a ski-jump ramp simultaneously launches aircraft upward and forward, allowing aircraft to take off with more weight and less end-speed than required for an unassisted horizontal launch aboard U.S. aircraft carriers.
F-35B will be the first variant to enter service, with U.S. Marine Corps in July. The aircraft has completed operational testing onboard aircraft carrier recently.