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The F-35B has successfully achieved another milestone, its first launch from a ski-jump.

BAE test pilot Peter Wilson is the ski jump project lead for a highly diverse cadre of technicians, engineers, administrative support staff and test pilots based at the Pax River ITF and in the UK. The test team is composed of both US and UK personnel and will continue phase 1 of ski-jump testing this summer in anticipation of eventual UK aircraft carrier operations.

Pete ‘Wizzer’ Wilson had this to say:

“It’s always exciting when you get to do something in aviation for the first time. We spend literally years planning these ‘firsts’, with hundreds of hours in the simulator as the event gets close, but even with all the preparation the test team remains focussed on the potential that something unexpected might happen. As is usually the case, the jet performed as expected and it was a real pleasure.I can’t wait until we’re conducting F-35 ski jumps from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier.

Friday’s F35B ski jump was a great success for the joint ski jump team. I’m exceptionally proud of this team. Their years of planning, collaboration and training have culminated in a fantastic achievement that advances the future capabilities of the aircraft and its integration into UK operations. As expected, aircraft BF-04 performed well and I can’t wait until we’re conducting F35 ski jumps from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth carrier. Until then, the de-risking that we’re able to achieve now during phase I of our ski jump testing will equip us with valuable data we’ll use to fuel our phase II efforts.”

The F-35B is able to automatically position the control surfaces and nozzles for takeoff; a unique capability compared with previous STOVL aircraft. This kind of automation reduces pilot workload and provides an added safety enhancement. The aircraft is also able to take-off at maximum weight from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier.

This test marks the second time in one week that the F-35 programme has successfully reached a milestone. Royal Air Force Test Pilot Squadron Leader Andy Edgell released two inert 500-pound dual mode Paveway IV precision-guided bombs from aircraft BF-03 over the Atlantic Test Ranges earlier in the month.

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