BAE Systems test pilot Pete Wilson became the first pilot to test the launch of the F35B from a ski jump last week.

The launch, which took place at a Naval Air Station in Maryland is only the start of testing which is expected to last two weeks and is a big step towards the implementation of the ski launch on UK aircraft carriers.

The F35B is designed for short and vertical take-off and the trials demonstrate the ability to take off and land safely and effectively from a ski-jump ramp.

Why a ski-jump ramp?

A ski-jump ramp allows the aircraft to launch upward and forward. This in turn allows them to take off with more weight on board and with less speed, making them ideal for use on carriers with shorter runways.

Talking about the tests Pete 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”

This is only a small part of the overall F35 programme in which BAE systems play a key role. Not only are they involved in the design, development and manufacture or both aircraft and carrier, they are also leading the work to ensure a seamless integration . They have engineers involved on both sides of the Atlantic; in the US and in Lancashire in the UK, all working to test and develop the latest technologies.

It is hoped that the data from the trials will enable further improvements and see the F35 launch from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth carrier.

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