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F-35B Jet Begins First Ski-Jump Launch and Weapons Testing

U.K. Ministry of Defence // June 23, 2015

The F-35B Lightning II has successfully completed another major milestone as the fifth generation stealth fighter was launched into the skies from a ski-jump, Friday 19 June.

The land-based test — conducted by the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force — took place at Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland.

The joint U.S.-U.K. test team will continue phase I of ski jump testing this summer in anticipation of eventual U.K. aircraft carrier operations.

Peter Wilson is the BAE Systems test pilot and 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 U.K.

He said:

"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."

For more than 30 years, the U.K. has used the ski jump approach to carrier operations as an alternative to the catapults and arresting gear used aboard U.S. aircraft carriers.

Read the full article from the U.K. MoD.