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Production F-35B performs first vertical takeoff, won't do it often (video)

Steve Dent , @stevetdent
05.21.13
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For the first time ever, a production-grade Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II has performed a vertical takeoff (VTO) maneuver, followed by a short hover at low altitude and vertical landing. Though the US Marines had required such a function from the outset of the program (which has already been performed by prototype F-35Bs) it can only be used for very short jaunts. That's because the $300 million jet, like the Harrier before it, can't carry any armaments or much fuel in such a configuration -- meaning almost all of its takeoff and landings will be of the non-vertical, short variety instead. Meanwhile, the Air Force said it'll deploy the F-35A variant a year earlier than predicted in mid-2016, according to Reuters, giving the much beleaguered program a double-shot of good news. Head after the break to catch the rather dramatic video.

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