V/STOL is similar to STOVL, and stands for Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing. It is used to describe an aircraft's capabilities. AV-8B Harriers and most helicopters are V/STOL. The short take off rather than vertical allows greater range and/or payload; typically the full war loadout of a Harrier was heavier than it could lift off the ground vertically. It would therefore take off with a short runup, and on return, would settle using vertical landing techniques. STOVL, btw, stands for Short Take Off Vertical Landing. Short takeoffs are useful for permitting operation from the deck of a ship without all that dangerous, complex mucking about with steam catapults that the U.S. Navy favors. All you need is the now-familiar 'ski-jump' at the end of the deck to give the aircraft a small boost. The Soviet (now Russian) equivalent was the Yakolev Yak-36 Forger. Before the USSR broke up, the Soviet Navy was experimenting with a navalized version of the MiG-29 which could take off horizontally from a ski-jump deck with no catapult, using only its engines. Impressive.

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