Ask an Explainer
How does the mechanism for short takeoff and vertical landing work with jet engine aircraft?
The two main methods for Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) are vectored thrust and lift fans. Aircraft like the Harrier use vectored thrust. Instead of having one or two large exhaust nozzles at the back, it has 4 smaller engine nozzles around the aircraft. These nozzles can be pointed down to take off or land vertically, and then they can rotate 90 degrees and thrust the aircraft forward. The lift fan technique is used by the Lockheed F-35b. This aircraft has a large turbofan pointing downwards in the middle of the aircraft. This fan is connected to the same shaft as the jet engine so that when the jet engine turns on, the fan also spins. This allows the fan to create thrust downward to help push the aircraft up. To help balance it the exhaust in the back also spins downward and creates thrust upward. This combined system allows for STOVL to occur.