While the US Navy is quite fond of the catapult launching system used on its aircraft carriers, navies around the globe don't exactly feel the same way. For every American carrier that uses a catapult, there's a British, Italian, Spanish, or Indian carrier that takes the ski-jump approach.
Here, we see the F-35B Lightning II – that's the vertical takeoff and landing model that will be used by the Marines and many foreign navies – complete its very first test using a ski jump. VTOL aircraft, like the F-35B, proceed towards the ramp under their own power, and then use their thrust vectoring engines to take off. As straight vertical takeoff is a challenge when an aircraft is loaded down with weapons and fuel, this approach makes it much easier to get a heavy plane airborne.
Of the F-35 customers that have placed orders, only the United Kingdom and Italy – both of which maintain STOVL carriers, in the form of the Italian Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi and British Queen Elizabeth-class – have ordered the B model. They're far from the only navies to use a ski-jump carrier, though. Russia, India, Spain, Australia, China, and Thailand all use ramps on their carriers.
Check out the F-35B's first ramp test in the video above. It's a pretty cool scene.