One after another, a stream of F-35B fighter aircraft took off from the amphibious assault ship America recently and then demonstrated their ability to land vertically back on the deck of the ship.
The stealthy jets, part of the most expensive weapons program ever, hovered near the side of the mini-aircraft carrier and troop-landing ship before lowering slowly onto its deck and landing with a bounce.
The demonstration off the Southern California coast near San Diego on Saturday afternoon was to show how the Marine variant of the F-35 can be integrated into Marine and Navy operations from sea and support other Marine aircraft.
There are three versions of the plane — the F-35A for the Air Force, which will be the most prevalent plane and has conventional takeoff and landing capabilities; the F-35C for the Navy, which will be launched via catapult from conventional aircraft carriers; and the F-35B, whose short takeoff and landing capability in tight spots is ideally suited for the Marines.
The F-35B is set to deploy in the Pacific in 2018.
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