Feeds

And now - new stealth jumpjet makes first hover landing

'Cobblestones' effect reduced, says Brit test pilot

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Vid Following yesterday's initial hover, the new F-35B Lightning II - world's first supersonic stealth jumpjet - has now made a vertical landing. British test pilot Graham Tomlinson said the aircraft is much easier to set down than today's Harrier.

“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 Tomlinson, a former RAF Harrier jockey and now lead test pilot for the F-35B. The first three jumpjets are in flight tests at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

The vertical landing was a venture into the unknown for the F-35B, as its design is radically different from the Harrier and it had not previously hovered low enough for surface effects to come into play.

Tomlinson has previously said that the F-35B is easier to handle in the hover than a Harrier: apart from more sophisticated control systems, he says that the forward lift fan, driven by a shaft from the engine and mounted in a vertical tunnel behind the cockpit*, blasts cool air downward as the swivelling jetpipe nozzle at the back of the plane blows fiercely hot jet exhaust.

In the Harrier, hot exhaust roiling up from the ground can get sucked into the jet's engine intakes, causing unpredictable power blips, but Tomlinson has said that the F-35B's fanshaft air acts as a "dam", causing the hot exhaust to stay to the rear and letting the engine operate more consistently. He told reporters that the "cobblestones" felt during a hover landing were "very light" compared to his days flying Harriers.

“The low workload in the cockpit contrasted sharply with legacy short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) platforms,” he added.

Tomlinson also gave it as his assessment that data from the landing yesterday indicated the F-35B will be able to make vertical landings still carrying 5,000lb of fuel and weapons. This will mean that it can come in to a hover landing on ships at sea still armed with air-to-air missiles, a vital requirement if the plane is being used as a patrol fighter to protect a fleet.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.