STOVL F-35B Goes Supersonic, but Not First
The Military Times recently pronounced that the F-35 became “first US STOVL aircraft” to go supersonic.
They were, of course, wrong.
In 2001, Lockheed Martin’s ineptly designated X-35B — the prototype of the STOVL F-35 — not only achieved supersonic flight, but it did so on the same sortie that it achieved a short field take off and vertical landing. This was a first not only for a US aircraft, but a first in history.
An article by Marine Major Arthur Tomassetti, the test pilot on one of the sorties, describes the event. (Interestingly, he notes that the sortie had to work around a memorial service at Edwards Air Force Base. Test pilot Major Aaron ”C-Dot” George and civilian flight photographer Judson Brohmer were killed just 3 days prior during a test sortie.)