Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-35B Lightning II aircraft has successfully performed its first short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) propulsion system in-flight test.

The F-35B Lightning II aircraft possesses advanced stealth, supersonic speed, high agility, and has network-enabled and advanced sustainment capabilities.

Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, the F-35B will be employed by the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, as well as the Italian Air Force and Navy.

The short take-off and vertical landing capabilities of the F-35B will help allied forces to conduct operations from small ships and unprepared fields.

Derived from a common design, the three variants of the F-35 will be developed together, using the same sustainment infrastructure to bring down its cost of production.

The STOVL propulsion system, engaged for a total of 14 minutes during the flight, is the first in a series of planned STOVL-mode flights to will include short take-offs, hovers and vertical landings.

During the test, the F-35 was taken to 5,000ft, where it engaged the shaft-driven LiftFan propulsion system at 210kt (288mph).

After this, the F-35 slowed to 180kt (207mph) with the system engaged before accelerating to 210kt and converting back to conventional flight mode.

The F-35B will also replace US Marine Corps AV-8B STOVL fighters, F/A-18 strike fighters and EA-6B electronic attack aircraft.