A Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter with short-take-off-vertical-landing (STOVL) capabilities has, for the first time, flown at supersonic speeds.
During the supersonic flight, at the offshore supersonic test track near Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, US, the aircraft reached an altitude of 30,000ft and accelerated to Mach 1.07 (727mph).
The US Marine Corps F-35 programme manager Bob Price said the supersonic, radar-evading stealth aircraft is the first to come with STOVL capabilities.
“The supersonic F-35B can deploy from small ships and austere bases near front-line combat zones, greatly enhancing combat air support with higher sortie-generation rates,” Price said.
Flight tests will continue until the aircraft achieves a top speed of Mach 1.6 with a payload of more than 3,000lb.
The F-35B is scheduled to enter service with the US Marines, the UK Royal Navy and the Italian Navy.
The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter specifically designed to launch internal missiles and internal guided bombs at maximum supersonic speed.