STOVL is an acronym for Short Take Off and Vertical Landing.
It refers to aircraft able to take off from a short runway, and land vertically (i.e. with no runway). The most famous example is probably the Hawker Harrier Jump Jet, which though technically a VTOL aircraft, is operationally a STOVL aircraft due to the extra weight it carries at take off for fuel and armaments.
Other examples include:
- EWR VJ 101C (Germany)
- Dassault Mirage III V (France)
- Yakovlev Yak-141 (USSR)
- Joint Strike Fighter or JSF (Multi-National, led by the USA)
None of these has reached operational status, though the JSF is expected to enter service by 2010.