Feeds

Supersonic stealth jumpjet rolls off production line

Harrier successor: very cool, but is it useful?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The plane which will replace the famous Harrier "jump jet" passed an important milestone yesterday, with the first production F-35B rolling off the assembly line at US builder Lockheed Martin.

The F-35B at the rollout ceremony

The F-35B rollout ceremony. Note the raised covers above

the lift fan and supplementary dorsal engine intakes.

Most of the F-35B's abilties have been seen previously in other planes, but never all at once. Like the Harrier, the new bird is STOVL capable (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing). It can get airborne after only a very short takeoff run, and after completing its mission - so losing the weight of expended weapons and burnt fuel - it can hover down to land on a small pad. The F-35B gets added lift from a fan mounted in a central shaft, rather than relying solely on swivelling its jet exhaust nozzles downward like the Harrier.

STOVL capability means that the jet can potentially operate from short, improvised airstrips rather than needing a proper airbase runway. It also allows launch and recovery from a small aircraft carrier of the type currently employed by several of the world's second-rank naval powers - for instance the UK and Italy, which both plan to buy F-35Bs.

In the American military, the new jumpjet will be bought by the US Marines, replacing their large force of Harriers. The jarheads* like being able to fly jets from their (comparatively) small amphibious-assault ships as well as full-size US carriers. They also value the ability to work from improvised runways, or ones in poor condition. (As an example, the Harrier was until fairly recently the only fighter cleared to operate from the poorly-maintained runway at Kandahar in Afghanistan.)

“This generational leap in technology will enable us to operate a fleet of fighter/attack aircraft from the decks of ships, existing runways or from unimproved surfaces at austere bases," said General James Conway, the head jarhead, speaking at the rollout ceremony.

"We find that capability extremely valuable.”

In addition to its eyecatching STOVL ability, the F-35B also shares the attributes of the other F-35 versions; most importantly Stealth and supersonic speed, so far combined only in the F-22 Raptor uber-fighter. The revolutionary new jumpjet has already made a movie appearance, in Bruce Willis haxploitation action flick Die Hard 4.0, in which a jarhead pilot - misled by sinister blackhats into the belief that superheroic plod John McClane is actually a baddie - attempts to settle his hash, hovering about gratuitously while merrily shooting up a freeway crowded with innocent Americans.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.