The F-35 makes its first vertical landing aboard the USS Wasp…
It’s been a big month for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. At the end of last month, the Naval Strike Missile – a 900lbs cruise missile expect to be a regular payload aboard the F-35 – was filmed successfully destroying a Navy target at sea. And at the turn of the month, the aircraft itself performed the its first vertical landing aboard an aircraft carrier.
The F-35 has been performing vertical landings successfully for some time now, but the recent test is the first time the craft has ever done so at sea. From the clip you can see how smooth the landing is, a huge advancement on the complicated and hard control harrier jump jets.
But having such stability when landing vertically comes at a price. The vertical jet exhaust on the F-35 kicks out so much heat that engineers have had to reinforce the deck of USS Wasp to accommodate; the only problem is that no one really knows if it will be enough. If the jet requires carriers to undergo full resurfacing to handle the intense heat, the already extensive costs will go even further through the roof.
On the up side, the success of NSM test fire at sea shows that other technologies for this next-gen fighter are also moving along. The NSM, Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, comes equipped with GPS as well as special intertial and terrain based sensors that allow it to hug to contours of the ground. In the clip you can see the missile being fire from ground, skimming over the sea, flying low over an island before striking its target with deadly force.