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F-35 jet makes first shipboard vertical landing

An F-35B Lightning II makes the first vertical landing on a flight deck at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). A US Navy photo

USS WASP, AT SEA (BNS): An F-35B Joint Strike Fighter for the US Marine Corps has completed its first at-sea short take-off and vertical landing test on board an amphibious assault ship.

The test aircraft, BF-2, achieved the milestone on Monday after it landed safely on USS Wasp's (LHD 1) flight deck, the Navy said.

"The first at sea vertical landing is a huge milestone," Marine Corps Col. Roger Cordell, military site director for F-35 test and evaluation at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, said.

The first vertical landing is part of the initial ship trials for the F-35B and is expected to last two weeks.

The tests are scheduled to collect data on the aircraft's ability to perform short take-offs and vertical landings on a ship at sea, as well as determine how the aircraft integrates with the ship's landing systems, and deck and hangar operations, the Navy said in a statement.

The F-35B is the Joint Strike Fighter variant designed for the U.S. Marine Corps. The stealth fighter jet is capable of short take-offs and vertical landings for use on amphibious ships or expeditionary airfields to provide air power to the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

The F-35B will replace Marine AV-8B Harriers and F-18 Hornets and is presently undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to delivery to the fleet.

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