April 10 - The U.S. Marine Corps has successfully tested the nighttime take-off and vertical landing capabilities of the F-35B Lighting II fighter jet. As one of a family of aircraft designed for the multi-billion dollar, international Joint Strike Fighter program, the F-35B is made for warfare at sea, and while the program has been plagued by technical problems in recent years, the aircraft performed well in its maiden nightime test. Ben Gruber has more.
In the dead of night, a prototype F-35B Lightning II fighter jets takes off. The next generation fighter jet has been tested successfully during daylight..but never at night, so it's performance earlier this month at Maryland's Pax River Naval Air Station was closely watched by its designers. The F-35 spearheads a multinational programme to replace ageing aircraft in several countries including the US. The warfighter's short take off and vertical landing capabilities enable it to be flown from small amphibious assault ships, rather than aircraft carriers, which the Marine Corps say will be critical for warfare at sea. The test is one of a series being conducted ahead of the second phase of at-sea trials scheduled for the next generation fighter later this year.