November 1, 2011  

JSF shines at sea

To the F-35 program for an apparently rousing start to sea trials for the Marine Corps’ B variant.

After two weeks and dozens of short takeoffs and vertical landings, the test aircraft appears to have cleared another hurdle in its long journey from concept to deployable fighter jet. pilots reported the F-35B was easier to fly and maneuver on and below decks than the Harrier jump jet it will replace. The test director said that far from buckling steel flight decks and rupturing sailors’ internal organs — as one particularly lurid rumor had it — the new aircraft appears to create a hazard zone about the same size as a Harrier’s.

And by flying a group of journalists out to the amphibious assault ship Wasp for a midtrials demonstration, the Marine Corps proved it could do something its sister services couldn’t: allow taxpayers — or at least their media interlocutors — an up-close look at progress on their investment.