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Third variant of Lockheed Martin F-35 STOVL flies supersonic

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The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of Lockheed Martin: Photo: Lockheed Martin.

PATUXENT RIVER (BNS): Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant has successfully completed its first supersonic fight at the speed of Mach 1.07 (727 miles per hour). The test was conducted from the test track near Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

"For the first time in military aviation history, supersonic, radar-evading stealth comes with short takeoff and vertical landing capability," Bob Price, Lockheed Martin's F-35 US Marine Corps programme manager, said in a company news release.

The supersonic milestone was achieved on the 30th flight of the F-35B known as BF-2.

"The supersonic F-35B can deploy from small ships and austere bases near front-line combat zones, greatly enhancing combat air support with higher sortie-generation rates," he added.

The F-35B variant will enter into service for the Marines, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, and the Italian Air Force and Navy.

Lockheed Martin will do further testing on F-35, to achieve the top speed of Mach 1.6 with a full internal weapons load of more than 3,000 pounds. The F-35s are designed to launch internal missiles at maximum supersonic speed, as well as launch internal guided bombs supersonically.

During the flight, the pilot accomplished 21 unique test points, including several Integrated Test Blocks to validate roll, pitch, yaw and propulsion performance.

Two F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants of F-35 family have already broken the sound barrier (supersonic flight) and the BF-2 is the third in the row.

Three F-35 variants of Lockheed Martin are under development. The F-35A CTOL variant will replace the US Air Force F-16s and A-10s, as well as aircraft employed by seven allied nations. The F-35B STOVL variant will replace the US Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, UK Royal Air Force, Royal Navy Harrier GR.7s, GR.9s and Sea Harriers and Italian Harriers. The F-35C carrier variant will replace the US Navy F/A-18s.

The F-35C Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter as it combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment and lower operational and support costs.

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