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F-35B Makes First Ski Jump Launch

Once a feat performed only by Harriers, an F-35B makes the first takeoff from a “ski jump,” soon to be a regular sight aboard Royal Navy aircraft carriers. The ramp from which the flight took place was built in the United Kingdom and erected at Naval Station Patuxent River, Maryland, to test ski jump launch characteristics and carry out flight tests of the F-35B STOVL variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The ski jump ramp allows STOVL aircraft to get airborne with greater payloads than in the case of a takeoff using the same length deck run from a conventional deck. The flight took place June 19, 2015, and the aircraft was piloted by BAE Systems test pilot Peter Wilson, who is also the ski jump project lead for the joint U.S.-U.K. test team. The team will continue Phase 1 of ski jump testing this summer.

 

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