A shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) technique being developed by the UK for the Lockheed Martin F-35B is being eyed by the US Marine Corps as a way to facilitate operation of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) Joint Strike Fighters from US Navy aircraft carriers.
The F-35B is scheduled to replace USMC Boeing F/A-18s and concerns have arisen that integration of the STOVL JSF with conventional US Navy fighters will disrupt carrier landing operations.
The F-35B lacks a hook and will have to approach the ship, hover and land vertically, potentially slowing deck operations.
The rolling vertical landing technique is being developed to increase the F-35B's bringback payload when operating from the UK's planned CVF large-deck carriers.
An SRVL approach exploits the ability of the STOVL JSF to use vectored thrust to slow the aircraft while retaining the benefit of wingborne lift.
For the USMC, the technique would allow a conventional approach to a short landing on the carrier and could ease integration of the F-35B with US Navy F/A-18E/Fs.
"We strongly support what the UK is doing on rolling landings," says Lt Gen John Castellaw, USMC deputy commandant for aviation. Studies on how the F-35B will be operated continue, but SRVL "appears to be a viable option", he says
The F-35B will also replace the USMC's Boeing AV-8Bs, but these normally operate alongside helicopters from assault carriers too small for conventional fighters.
"We continue to work with the navy on this," Castellaw says, pointing out the STOVL Harrier has been operated successfully alongside US Navy fighters as part of an air wing the carrier USS Roosevelt.