Aircraft BF-1, the first STOVL F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, has just made its first vertical landing, at NAS Patuxent River, Md.
More details to come later, but BF-1 took off at 1.09 ET, after being delayed when the required search-and-rescue helicopter went unservicable. Eventually the flight was cleared without SAR support.
Insiders say STOVL test pilot Graham Tomlinson executed a "very short" take-off with the lift system engaged. Within 20min, the aircraft had accomplished its first vertical landing.
UPDATE - here's what Lockheed Martin has to say:
“Today’s vertical landing onto a 95-foot square pad showed that we have the thrust and the control to maneuver accurately both in free air and in the descent through ground effect,” said F-35 Lead STOVL Pilot Graham Tomlinson.
Tomlinson performed an 80-knot (93 miles per hour) short takeoff from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., at 1:09 p.m. EDT. About 13 minutes into the flight, he positioned the aircraft 150 feet above the airfield, where he commanded the F-35 to hover for approximately one minute then descend to the runway.
“The low workload in the cockpit contrasted sharply with legacy short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) platforms,” said Tomlinson.