USMC tests F-35B on sloped landing pads


By Dario Leone
Jan 29 2018
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The F-35B can operate from quickly prepared landing strips close to the front and away from the fixed airfields which rapidly come under attack during wartime

As shown by the video in this post, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has constructed sloped landing pads of various gradients at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field (MCALF) Bogue in order to gauge how the F-35B performs on such surfaces.

According to, testing at MCALF Bogue is expected to last through the end of February, says the news article.

Maj. Mike Lippert with the VX-23 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pax River, Md., said the goal of testing is to “expand the vertical landing envelope.”

The F-35B is the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the fifth generation F-35 Lighting II.

The F-35B’s STOVL capability would enable it to operate from quickly prepared landing strips close to the front and away from the fixed airfields which rapidly come under attack during wartime.

Furthermore as explained by Bob Nantz, technical specialist for the F-35 Integrated Test Force based at NAS Pax River,  because the plane lands vertically and requires only a short runway for takeoff, it is ideal for amphibious ship decks.

F-35B Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35B Lighning II VMFA-121 Green Knights, VK00, 169164 / 2015

Testing at MCALF Bogue is part of a larger series of extensive tests for the aircraft. Maj. Lippert said they are conducting about 200 test points for the F-35B. Test points use different combinations of environmental and takeoff/landing conditions to discover the plane’s range of capabilities.

Maj. Lippert called the testing operations an “airborne science project.”

The entire airfield at MCALF Bogue is just such an expeditionary runway, constructed of aluminum panels that can be disassembled and reconstructed at different locations.

Maj. Lippert said the airfield at MCALF Bogue is a unique testing location because the expeditionary landing field and the landing pads were constructed entirely by Marines. He said everyone involved in the testing operation has gained valuable experience that can be applied to the field.

Gunnery Sgt. Julio Silva led the effort in constructing the sloped landing pads used in the F-35B testing. The pads are constructed of the same aluminum panels as the rest of the runway. He said it was laborious process that included stabilizing and grading the soil and laying down each panel by hand.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Artwork courtesy of

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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