back to article Royal Navy running-jump method confirmed for F-35B

A US military contract announcement suggests that the UK Ministry of Defence still plans to purchase the F-35B stealth jumpjet for operations from the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers. Lockheed, maker of the aircraft, has received an $18m deal to integrate the UK-developed "Shipboard Rolling Vertical Landing" (SRVL) method …


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  1. Anton Ivanov

    This is silly

    OK, no catapults is something that I understand.

    However why for $DEITY sake no arrester wires? It is not like they are hugely expensive, untested, unknown and unverified tech.

    There is also a precedent for ramp takeoff/arrested landing - that what Russians settled on for Admiral Kuznetsov after toying with VTOL for much longer that the British fleet arm. Maybe they had a point there (though it looks like they are going for catapults and nuclear propulsion upgrade by 2012 by the look of it).

  2. Red Bren

    Vast oversimplification

    Why not use a big elastic band to help stop the landing aircraft then use the tension to help launch the next one?

    1. Steve Taylor 3

      even simpler

      > use the tension to help launch the next one?

      or even the same one right away?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: even simpler

        >> use the tension to help launch the next one?

        > or even the same one right away?


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "sole flying example"

    Only one test article? That's pretty criminal for anybody running a test program.

    1. Jolyon

      Single test article?

      Sounds like a ball's up.

      And other dropped a bollock / got the sack type ROFLCopterz.

  4. GeorgeTuk

    Seems sensible to me...

    Keep the way you were going but be able to use vertical landings if necessary. They insist it can land vertically is almost by the way...its more a nice feature to have than designing two craft around it.

    To change the carriers design now would be so costly as to render any savings useless.

    Lets just get 'em built on time and to budget now please.

    Full speed ahead on produc

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Not so

      From what I gather the design can still be swung either way (space left for necessary equipment, etc. etc) with out too much difficulty. The nice things about big ships is that plenty of space can be set aside for things you didn't think of when you first built them.

  5. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    "cannot afford enough jets for the two ships"

    Not required.

    The intention is that only one ship would be at sea at any one time, so why the need for aircraft for both? If, as expected, the delivery of the carriers is staggered, once the Prince of Wales has finished it's acceptance trials, Queen Elizabeth will be ready for it's first R&R and minor refit.

    Going by how the old Audacious class Ark was run, the aircraft would fly off to a land-based airfield when the ship returned to it's home port, and would only join again once the ship was back at sea, and passed it's sea-worthiness trials.

    You would need more than one ship's worth, but less than two, to account for aircraft maintenance cycles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Makes sense

      And if both ships happen to be ready for operations, you could use the spare for training, or as a helicopter base, or as a transport (put the British Army up in the empty hangars)

    2. Oninoshiko


      What is this? A well reasoned and thought out comment?

      I cannot abide this! I'll call your "logic" and raise you a "FAIL," sir!

      Seriously though, you do have a good point. If only one ship is intended to be out most of the time anyway, you shouldn't need two ships worth of planes. 1.5 ships-worth would be plenty, and then if things where getting ugly, you could always send both ships with a .75 plane load-out. Keeps the costs down, you can do maintenance and retrofits on anything at anytime and is still fairly versatile.

      1. Chimpofdoom!

        Failing all of that...

        the budget might allow us to send the second ship out with a bunch of trebuchet's on the deck for defending the other carrier.... the army can throw spears..

  6. chainman

    Top Down (up?) Sports Fighter

    When I saw the picture at the head of the article, I thought something like "These guys are pretty sporty driving with the canopy up."

    Forgot about the fan door.

    Some days being stupid isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

  7. Joe User

    Spending money on the wrong item

    Wouldn't it be cheaper to buy conventional aircraft and use the money saved on this to equip a carrier with a catapult (steam or electric) and arrester gear? You'd end up with better aircraft and a more versatile carrier.

    1. Paul_Murphy


      For a given level of conventional.

      Using non-VTOL aircraft means that the carrier needs arrester wires, longer/angled flight deck and catapults.

      Conventional aircraft will also need to be navalised - folding wings, tails, whatever to get them to fit on a small carrier, as well as arrester hooks and lamding aids.

      In a lot of ways having a very large carrier makes things a lot simpler - more room for aircraft, equipment and options. Our normal tiny carriers are always a study in cramming in all things that are needed.

      I believe that our carriers should be designed with catapults and wires from the outset (if we don't use or need them after all then there is little harm done.

      We should set out to buy affordable aircraft (F-18s seems to be Lewis' favourite) and if we can afford VTOL then great.

      Two carriers are needed rather than one - unless we are content to let the US do everything for us.


  8. Adair Silver badge

    The phrase...

    ...'horrible cludge' springs to mind.

    or, as the old folks used to say, 'If it's worth doing, it's worth doing properly' [the FIRST time!], but then it's only tax payers' money, so who really cares?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    The F-35B is stalled in flight tests at the moment

    ... I hope it was flying high enough to recover from the stall

    < I'll get me flying jacket with copy of Pooleys in pocket

  10. Craig Vaughton

    Would it be practical?

    Assuming that there's scope in the carrier design to incorporate catapults and arrester gear, steam or otherwise, would they be able launch some nice cheap A/F-18s off the new carriers? Or dare I say, Rafale's if we want to creep up to the French and look like a Euro Navy?

    Take your pick, just enough (if you're lucky) hi-tech F35s for one carrier, or a full set of something cheaper?

    Better still why not highly capable and probably quite cheap Su-33s. There again the MoD would screw that up by demanding we build them here and fill them with UK spec kit that will take years to talk to the rest of the plane or each other.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Quote:"The Sea Harrier had been upgraded in the early 1990s to carry heavy AMRAAM missiles, making it probably the UK's most powerful fighter at the time (bearing in mind that the the only other contender then was the lamentable Tornado F3). In the cold northern seas where the RN had expected to operate against the Soviets, the upgrade worked."

    Now let's be a little more rational on this:

    Wikipedia Quote:

    "Criticisms of the ADV

    The Tornado ADV has been criticised for its lack of "true" fighter performance. It is true that the Tornado does not have the close combat performance of an aircraft such as the F-16. However, it was designed as an interceptor rather than as an air superiority fighter. Its primary purpose was to carry a large number of missiles and fly them far from base over the North Sea and Northern Atlantic; once on station it needed to have good endurance, and then be able to engage and destroy targets at long range. These targets were envisaged to be formations of Soviet bomber aircraft, the engagement of which would not have required significant air combat manouverability. For this reason, dogfighting capabilities would always be a secondary consideration.[5]"

    Quote Luftwaffe:


    So if we approach this with rationality instead of "we are still an empire who can strike anywhere" and state this:

    1.) The British land mass is located primarily around the Island also known as British Isles.

    2.) The threat to Britain's existance comes from the sea to the landmass of 1.)

    3.) The Tornado ADV has an excellent long-range performance because of

    3.1) Buddy-Buddy refueling (see Luftwaffe image above)

    3.2) Swept Wings which allow for both long loitering in the north (cue: Tu-95 approaching Scotland) and to make a quick dash with swept wings and afterburner.

    4.) The Tornado airframe can certainly house any modern RADAR and launch any modern missile, including stealthy cruise missiles and emission-homing missiles. Only a lack of funding didn't give the ADV newer missiles like IRIS-T and Meteor. Idiotic bankers in Canary Wharf are to blame here, not a bad airframe.

    5.) The harrier is a bad joke when the task is to defend the Existence of Britain . Short range, small payload. No supersonic speed.

    Now come with all your arguments about "cold steel german rationality" and all that "empire" stuff.

    Or face the truth that irrationality has brought your state to near bankruptcy. Mr Lewis displays a fine example of that. All from America is good apparently - starting wars at random, letting fraudsters run finance without punishment....

    1. arkhangelsk

      Even as an interceptor

      ... in the 1980s the ADV arguably ran a poor 3rd behind the F-14, which actually qualifies as a fighter and the MiG-31. Both these planes has fair range, can apparently keep up with airliners, can go supersonic (the MiG-31's forte) and best of all, can engage multiple targets with radars that apparently worked (the ADV's radar problems are legend).

      As an interceptor, the ADV does have advantages over the Sea Harrier, but as an all-round FIGHTER, the math is different.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    "a formidable weapon by any measure"

    Now try to get that nasty thing with the Slowjet, I mean Jumpjet, before it hits one of the nice little building in the City of Westminster

    I guess a supersonic dash with Tornado ADV will have higher chances of success than the Harrier.

    The Kh-22 weighs 5 tons and the Tu95 has a payload/fuel capacity of about 90 tons. It can also do buddy-buddy refueling like the Tornado. And it only has to get into 400kms distance of the target. So your interceptor must operate at least 500 kms north of Edinburgh if Armageddon is to be avoided.

    Dear Officer Lewis, how you make this happen with the Jumpjet, SIR ? Maybe fueling it from that stupid Tornado ???

    There's a reason the smartest people go to the airforce....

    Warm Hydrazine fire. No Lewis, that's not a drug against see-sickness or scorbut.

  13. paulc

    big nets...

    I would like to propose catching them with very big butterfly nets...

  14. James Pickett


    "a door hinge issue"

    You have to wonder about the complicated bits if they can't even get the door hinges right...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As was asked right at the top, why can't they use the ski-jump take-off but arrester hook landing?

  16. Anonymous Coward


    ..can't they just strap on booster rockets for launch and arrester wires for landing. Buy some fast freighters and a crane for supplying the boosters.

    That will make a Rafale nicely launch fully fueled and armed to the teeth. Just make sure the meatsack is in a comfortable position when the rockets are detonated, eerrrm ignited. Computers will control launch, as it is the case with other modern carriers.

    A single Rafale squadron has more effectiveness than two boatloads of Rollys-Royce-Funnyjets.

    1. arkhangelsk

      ...because JATO/RATO can't cut the take off distance enough

      ... there is a reason why catapults provide 4Gs or so of acceleration - not because anyone thinks it is good for the plane or pilot, but simply because that much acceleration is required to force the plane off the ground in the short distance. A realistic JATO can shorten takeoffs some, but not to that extent.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hooks up!

    Arrester Hooks shorten the lifespan on an aircraft. If you look at pictures of arrested landings, you can see the skin of the aircraft rippling under the stress - (incidentally, a steam catapult also has the same problem). Now if you have a surplus of aircraft, this isn't a problem. Airframes which are no longer useful, you downgrade to feet-dry training, and those which are still serviceable get rotated to feet-wet work.

    But we don't have the money for this over-run. So if we can avoid this, we will. Hence, no cats, and not hooks.

    Paris, because if you were in danger of landing on her flight deck, you'd be better of boltering.

  18. D3F


    The F35B is going to be exceptional - we don't want anything less, it's a mile ahead of anything else that Britain has ever been involved with - we've lagged behind the US for half a century in terms of our aviation, the EF is a generation behind the F22 and has none of the battlespace management or survivability assets that the F22 brings to the table.

    Similarly, suggestions to use a CATOBAR with an ageing or navalised 4th generation plane are flawed by what we want to deliver - The newer russian SAM systems are not in any way similar to those that were faced over Bosnia or Iraq, they are an order of magnitude better in performance relative to the planes we have with passive seekers, several hundred NM ranges and decent sensors, Russia has invested in these for a good reason and they're selling like hot cakes.

    Re: Rafales (for the poster above who rates them highly), consider that not a single foreign country has bought them, ever primarily because their real-world capabilities are completely different from what the French actually claim, they're a superb low-altitude dogfighter, a mediocre mud-mover (not compatible with US weapons) with a woefully performing underpowered radar which is useless in an era of BVR engagements and HMS/HOBS missiles (ASRAAM) (that can hit targets behind the wingline thus negating dogfighting as a method of survival) the rafale is basically the very symbol of french arrogance, endless buzzwords which equate to f-all when competing in international procurement competitions, they're junk, even the french have only bought a handful, they make a whopping 1 a month...

    In terms of the carrier operations, I'd prefer it if they went CATOBAR and used the F-35A variant, it's the best in terms of performance, it's cheaper and will probably have the lowest RCS, I think at this stage the contractual obligations may be the problem, either in terms of the carriers or in terms of the F-35 buy, someone above also suggested reducing the purchase to equip a single carrier, the problem with that (although it's not a bad idea) is that you need enough spares, the 38/carrier was quite a practical number, in high intensity conflict you really do need as many planes as is possible, attrition and maintenance being the operative factors.

    I am definitely in favour of keeping one carrier on patrol, one in port, definitely better than using one as an amphib vessel, having a single carrier is a huge risk, losing a single vessel could essentially lose a war, have one in harbour, good for public relations etc, train on it, operate it, and be ready to use it if necessary.

    Look forward to seeing the SDR, hopefully it won't be as ruinous as some speculate.

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