Alright, I know this is RideLust and not FlightLust, but work with me on this, OK? Planes are cool, and new fighter aircraft are particularly cool.
The above video shows the first vertical landing of the new F35B Lightning II, which happened this weekend at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. There will be three variants of the F35 but the video shows the F-35B, designed to replace the TAV-8A Harrier used by the United States Marine Corps.
The F35 is smaller than the other “next generation” fighter, the F22 Raptor. The F35 uses a single engine as opposed to the F22s twin engine design. Though physically smaller, the F35 has a larger radar cross section than the F22. Both are still considered stealth aircraft, since the F35 appears no larger than a metal golf ball to enemy radar (the F22 is about the size of a metal ball bearing to enemy radar).
A short take off and landing (STOL) aircraft is essential to the USMC’s mission of rapid response and support of ground troops in remote locations. To achieve vertical lift, thrust is vectored from the engine downward; the tricky part is modulating the thrust to achieve a balanced aircraft. Harriers were notoriously difficult to fly and required longer training for pilots; the F-35B is designed to be easier to fly and more maneuverable than previous STOL aircraft.
The F-35B will be rolled out in 2012 and will eventually replace both the Harrier and the F/A-18 Hornet.