An F-35B Lightning II takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp on May 25, 2015. | US Navy Photo
ABOARD USS AMERICA — The Marine Corps' F-35B is almost ready for its close-up.
The F-35B has entered the home stretch of sea trials on the amphibious-assault ship USS America off the coast of San Diego, California. The third and final stage of testing is 21 days of fine-tuning the fifth-generation stealth fighter's capabilities.
Stacking the deck, planners purposefully placed the amphibious warship in rough waters in order to evaluate how the pilot and aircraft would adapt.
"There are smoother places that we could be," Andrew Maack, government chief test engineer and site director of the naval variants at Patuxent River, Maryland said during a briefing aboard the vessel.
"But we are actually looking for increased deck motion so we asked for the ship to be here for the purpose of it being a little bit more challenging envelope for the airplane."
Planners said the F-35B was testing in sea state 4 with swells of up to 6 feet accompanied with approximately 15 knots of wind.
The following 30-second video was shot from within an MV-22B Osprey and shows an F-35B hovering above the flight deck before executing a precise vertical landing.
Adjust the volume on your device before pressing play.
Ideal for the amphibious nature of the Marine Corps and unlike the Navy and Air Force variants, the F-35B is designed to perform short takeoffs and vertical landings.
The final round of testing aboard USS America is slated to conclude in mid-November.