The Corps’ jump jet version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flew faster than the speed of sound June 10.
For the first time in military aviation history, supersonic, radar-evading stealth comes with short take-off vertical landing capability,” said Bob Price, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Marine Corps program manager, in a press release. “The supersonic F-35B can deploy with small ships and austere bases near front line combat zones, greatly enhancing combat air support with higher sortie-generation rates.”
Marine Lt. Col. Matt Kelly, the pilot of the test aircraft known as BF-2, climbed to 30,000 feet above Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and then accelerated to Mach 1.07, or 727 miles per hour. The test team will push the aircraft to Mach 1.6, the JSF’s top speed, in future tests.
Although BF-2 is the first Marine Corps variant to reach supersonic speed, two Air Force variants, or conventional takeoff and landing variants known as the F-35A, have already broken the sound barrier, according to the Lockheed release.