Operational F-35B fighter jet's first vertical landing was years, billions in the making (video)

F35B fighter jet makes first vertical landing video

Lockheed Martin's F-35 program has been a political whipping boy seemingly forever, but a production VTOL 'B'-variant of the pricey supersonic jet finally did what it was made for: a vertical landing. That happened nearly three years to the day after the estimated $304 million (each!) jet's first mid-air hover test, at which point the Pentagon pegged the cost at $83 million. Inflation aside, the US Marine's variant seemed to make a fine, if solid three point landing and Lockheed Martin says it's made considerable strides in the flight testing program over the last couple of years, despite all the overruns and delays. Hopefully that means the US Marines, Britain's Royal Air Force et. al. will be able to deploy that capability on their F-35B's soon -- ie, before they're already obsolete. Check the video after the break.

Update: As commenter daveschroeder pointed out, this is the first vertical landing of a production version of the F-35B. Test copies of the fighter (with test pilots aboard) have been performing the feat since late 2011, so we've tweaked the article to make that point clear.