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Air Force STOVL Loses Some Airspeed: The Air Force was enamored of buying some of the short takeoff/vertical landing version of the F-35, Keys said, but has lost some of its ardor for the idea. While the aircraft would have been useful for deployment to short strips, widely dispersed, it pays a hefty penalty in range and payload. A final decision hasn’t been made, Keys said, nor does it have to be for some time to come. The STOVL F-35 is the last to start coming off the assembly line, and the Air Force will have time to evaluate the conventional takeoff version before committing to another type, he said.