ABOARD THE USS AMERICA — It’s the new Joint Strike Fighter like you’ve never seen it before.
The Marine variant is the only one designed to execute short takeoffs and vertical landings, so it can operate aboard the amphibious ships that Marines deploy aboard.
In this last round of testing, conducted off the coast of San Diego, test pilots and planners pushed the envelope by intentionally operating in choppy waters, with swells of up to six feet, to see how the aircraft would handle the tough conditions.
Spoiler alert: The F-35 makes it look easy.
In this video, shot from the back of an MV-22B Osprey on the flight deck, an F-35 approaches the ship in seconds, then hovers in mid-air, churning up clouds of sea spray with its powerful lift fans before descending for a precise vertical landing on the ship.
You can see the deck swaying with the elevated swells as the aircraft makes its approach.
The F-35 will be completing testing aboard the America for the next three weeks. In addition to operating in swells of up to eight feet, the aircraft will test its full weapons load-out, aircraft software, and a full range of vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.