back to article Royal Navy to be first running-jump-jet force

Senior Royal Navy aviators have said that the successor plane to the famous Harrier jumpjet will probably not land vertically on British aircraft carriers. Rather, the F-35B "Lightning II" will employ the "Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing" (SRVL) technique as routine: it will be a running-jump jet, as it were. The F-35B …


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  1. Toastan Buttar


    "I wish I could fly right up to the sky but I can't."

  2. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    "You're burning up the engine much less [with SRVL],"

    You interviewed a senior harrier pilot and that's all you got?

    (IT? because I'm wondering if that's it?)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    @Lewis Page

    Hey, haven't seen it anywhere else so here it is.

    Congratulations on getting a spot on Radio 4's Today program duking it out with a Royal Navy boffin on the launch of the Type 45 Destroyer HMS Daring. It was several weeks ago, but iirc the Naval rep was pretty cool, particularly when you likened the Type 45 duties to a "cruising cocktail party".

    Yup, this one is totally alien to the subject at hand!

  4. Dale Ghent

    Russians were the first... have an all-STOVL naval air fleet with their Kiev-class carriers and Yak-38 aircraft starting in the late 70's. This isn't to say that the Yak-38 had a successful service career, though.

  5. George

    Retirement of the Sea Harrier... surely due to its age not just the fact it can't vertically land?!

    Other than that slight technicality all this seems to make good sense for once, surely a rolling landing is easier. And if its a) easier b) involves less engine wear and c) doesn't mean dumping weapons then surely its win all round.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Windows for Warships again

    The next release of Windoes for Warships to come bundled with MS Flight Simulator?

  7. James Pickett


    "yet to show just how good it is at hovering"

    I do hope we haven't placed an order yet. The Harrier has been doing proper VTOL for over 40 years - you'd think the Yanks would have caught up by now...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    aaaaaaargh, anything to make money disappear... how about the STOBNL

    Short Take Off Big Net Landing, all those nets that the Japanese fishing fleet lose, could be picked up by the Greenpiss people, sold to the Brits... win, win... and some ditsy Admiral Nelson would not have to spend all his Euro's

  9. the spectacularly refined chap

    Doesn't sound too new

    The Yak-38 was doing this decades ago for the simple reason it allowed the Soviets to avoid fitting blast-resistant deck plates to their carriers. Just because we and the Yanks haven't been doing it doesn't mean no one has.

  10. F Seiler


    STORVL is cute. I associate it with "stored harbl", or something >>

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  12. Paul Murphy

    Wouldn't it be nice

    If we actually had an aircraft that would do what we wanted:

    Vertical take off and landing with full load,

    Rolling take off with extra load (eg. fuel tanks)

    Arrestor hook fitted, in case we need to land on someone elses' carrier.

    Is there really a need for supersonic? especially since the compromises in design, cost and maintenance are so high.

    Maybe something like a Buccaneer with twin Pegasus engines?

    Anyway - SRTOL surely? Short Rolling Take Off and Landing

    or maybe LOTRS - oh wait that's Lord of the Rings


  13. SkippyBing


    You'll find the last batch of Sea Harriers were delivered around 1998 so some of the retired aircraft were less than ten years old. I'm not saying it was a short term desperate money saving measure but the aircraft were halfway through an avionics upgrade to make an out of service date of 2014 when they were binned.

    By the way anyone who thinks our carriers are fitted with any sort of blast resistant deck obviously hasn't seen the big dents all over Invincible from aircraft landing on it. Russians ships seem to built of far thicker steel than ours, nice thick layers of paint too but I'm guessing that was to cover the rust.

  14. Robert E A Harvey

    how about...

    .... just 'take-off' and 'landing'.

    No-one describes a commercial jet as 'Thundering Down Out Of The Sky In Reverse Thrust And Bouncing From One Wheel To Another Before Slamming On The Brakes In The Hope You Won't Hit The Chap Who Landed 23 Seconds Ago' (TDOOTSIRTABFOWTABSOTBITHYWHTCWL2SA). They just call it 'Landing'

    Why do the military need all that detail to describe 'Stopping Without Crashing' (SWC) ?

    - Mine's the one with the old boarding passes in the pocket

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid ETLAs

    SRVL? I immediately though 'Shrivel'.

    Nice ETLA*, that.

    Extended Three Letter Acronym. Upon which I have patent.

  16. tardigrade

    Pegasus afterburners.

    My late Grandfather was on the design team for the Pegasus engine at Rolls Royce after the War. When I was a kid, he showed me the schematics for a modified Pegasus engine with reheat in the forward thrust nozzles, the ones that actually blow cool air from the compressor fans. The intention of this modification was to allow full load Vertical take-off and landings on carriers at all latitudes. My Grandfather told me that It never got further than the design stage though because the extra reheat would have burnt holes in the carrier decks. The Navy (or MOD) wouldn't consider the expense of a reinforced deck refit, and presumably the ongoing maintenance costs, to be worth the advantage.

    It's an interesting story. What gets me though is that in 40 years nothing has changed to make this option any easier now in new aircraft. More than that, even allowing for the fact the the F-35 is supersonic, the amount of effort that has gone into making the F-35B do what a 40 year old aircraft can do, just shows what an amazing aircraft design the Harrier was. I will be sorry to see the Harriers leave service. A phenomenal aircraft.

  17. R Callan


    A minor nit or two, the Pegasus engine was designed and made by Bristol (the clue is in the name, from Greek mythology and not from an English river) and the afterburning Pegasus was intended for the supersonic P1154 aircraft.

    Incidently, the Harrier has always had enough *power* to be supersonic in level flight, but not the aerodynamics. Sir Sydney wanted to put variable area intakes on the Harrier, but these were removed as a cost cutting device. So, the F-35B (except for the "stealth" technology) is just the reworking of a 40+ year old concept and as yet not even a proven reworking. (Plus they are ugly).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Robert E A Harvey

    > "Thundering Down Out Of The Sky In Reverse Thrust And Bouncing From One Wheel To

    > Another Before Slamming On The Brakes In The Hope You Won't Hit The Chap Who

    > Landed 23 Seconds Ago'

    Reverse thrusters can only deployed when the landing gear is on the ground. And the previous chap would have landed at least 60 seconds ago, unless he was flying a heavy.

    So please, Microsoft canning Flight Sim does not mean we can now start slipping up when discussing aviation. Remember the motto; As real as it gets!

    Paris.. perfect for VFR touch and go's. Do you think she's the gal that will allow a back course localisor approach?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I remember reading some zany concepts for Harrier operations on aircraft carriers. One of them involved the aircraft flying slowly alongside the carrier, and then hovering upwards into the jaws of a grabber, which would grab the Harrier and presumably lift it down into a small hangar. It was Thunderbirds stuff and no doubt would have been hairy if the carrier had been rolling from side to side.

    How likely is it that these F-35s will end up almost never using their jump jet capability in operational use, even after all the fuss and money spent on them? As I understand it the original impetus for jump jet technology was the desire to operate jets away from airbases, in the event of nuclear war; but this is no longer relevant, and the few places where jump jets are appropriate were purpose-designed by God to make them inhospitable for jets. The impression I get is that jump jet technology is still a solution looking for a problem. I assume that somewhere in the government there is a spreadsheet that lists the costs of S/V(R)TOL (or whatever) against the benefits, and that at the moment the balance just fractionally tips towards the benefits, or is at a point where it would be too expensive to bin the project and buy F-18s instead, or navalised Hawks, or something lateral.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge

    Running Jump?

    Sounds more like a Flying F*** to me.

    Oh, and re: ETLA's. You might have a problem with prior art there, unless you can prove that you came up with this at least 20 years ago......

  21. AreBelongToUs

    @how about ...

    Tea --> Keyboard --> Invoice

    I salute you sir!

  22. James


    I think the role has changed subtly. The multirole ability and cheaper logistics (smaller vessels), and less reliance on long, prepared runways must still be very useful.

  23. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Harrier can already do short rolling landings.

    What stopped the Sea Harrier from doing SRL was that our carriers were too small - we would have to clear the whole flight deck for every landing, whereas with VL we could just plonk the Harrier down in the same amount of space as a helicopter. So, seeing as our new gen carriers (if they ever reach service) will have decks with enough space for the F-35B to do SRL, it seems obvious that the Sea Harriers could also do SRLs with full weapons load. Seems to me we should just keep the Sea Harriers until the carriers get upgraded with catapaults and arrestor gear and can launch the proper naval version, the F-35C.

  24. goggyturk


    "still carrying two hefty AMRAAM missiles and a safe minimum of fuel"

    Hope they're able to carry more than that. A truly puny payload! They should be able to return an extra pair of Sidewinders too at least.

    The mentions of the Yak-38 are relevant because it was crippled by carrying around dead weight in the shape of lift engines. As I remember, the main purpose of the Yak was nuclear strike (presumably against NATO fleets or convoys), so they didn't care about air to air.

    The F-35B is similarly crippled compared to almost every other modern fighter, including the F-35A. Time to get rid?

  25. Vlad The Impugner


    Sounds dwarvish.

  26. Ian


    "This trick is already used when taking off. Harriers are properly speaking not VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft, but STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing)."

    Sorry Lewis but this is wrong, it absolutely is VTOL because it is capable of vertical take off and landing even if vertical take offs are uncommon because of the fuel they burn. STOVL implies it can ONLY do short take offs which simply isn't true. So "properly" speaking VTOL or V/STOL as you mention is correct, the latter implies it's capable of both so is indeed still the most correct, but your comments imply that STOVL = V/STOL, in terms of proper correctness, this isn't true. See here for an example of a Sea harrier doing a vertical take off:

    As you can see, a short take off is quite different, it's well, a normal take off, but shorter:

    One would think as an ex-navy man and a journalist you'd know that your comment was incorrect or at least badly phrased (perhaps you meant operationally it's used in a STOVL role?)! The term STOVL should correctly be reserved for aircraft that cannot generate the vertical lift to gain height but can at least generate the vertical lift to descend slowly enough to land safely. The Harrier doesn't fit into this category as it's capable of both Vertical and Short take offs even if these are not used operationally.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame the RAF

    The forced retirement of the SHAR had nothing to do with age or ability, despite what the MOD spout. It was purely a political move made to cover up the RAF taking control of the FAA fixed wing aircraft after the usual Boys Club backstabbing in Whitehall.

    The RAF were jealous of the reputation the SHAR gained in the Falklands, especially after they had said the Harrier would never be of any use air to air. After all, for all the effort and fuel they wasted on that Vulcan, they managed to get ONE bomb on target, and the Famous Nimrod Patrols never got within 1,000 miles of the action!!!

    The LAST time this happened the poor old Navy was stuck with Swordfish (120knots), and Gloster Gladiators (160Knots), to fight off ME109's and Zero's (400+Knots).

    Re` 1998 delivery, that would be the SHAR 2 rebuild, not new aircraft, just new avionics, radar, and AMRAAM missile capabilities; slapping on the more powerful and economical engines and bigger wing from the GR9 would have made sense, but I suspect more RAF shenanigans stopped that idea.

  28. SkippyBing

    @Ian and Ian

    The point with the Harrier doing short take-offs was that it was a way to get them off the ground with an all up mass greater than the thrust of the engines, a position in which you can't do a vertical take off. This makes them far more useful, otherwise you wouldn't be able to launch with full fuel and weapons which is why they run along the deck and up the ramp to get lift and a better velocity vector. So in a day to day role it is STOVL, the fuel burn is about the same in either case as the engine will be at full throttle for any kind of take off. VTOL is essentially a party trick for airshows.

    The 1998 aircraft were new build in addition to the upgraded FRS.1 airframes one of the differences being you couldn't get two radios in the new aircraft for some reason but could in the upgraded ones. When they were retired they were virtually as new. The main reason for not getting the more powerful engine was that it wouldn't fit in the first generation Harrier fuselage as it was a bigger diameter.

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