Aircraft

Royal Navy makes first ever F-35B rolling landing

Royal Navy makes first ever F-...
A Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II makes the world's first SRVL
A Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II makes the world's first SRVL
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A Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II makes the world's first SRVL
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A Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II makes the world's first SRVL
A Merlin Mk4 From 845 Naval Air Squadron takes off in the SAR role as UK test pilot Peter Wilson, prepares to take off to conduct the worlds first SRVL
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A Merlin Mk4 From 845 Naval Air Squadron takes off in the SAR role as UK test pilot Peter Wilson, prepares to take off to conduct the worlds first SRVL
UK test pilot Peter Wilson
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UK test pilot Peter Wilson
The F-35B on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth
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The F-35B on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth
UK test pilot Peter Wilson, prepares to take off to conduct the worlds first SRVL
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UK test pilot Peter Wilson, prepares to take off to conduct the worlds first SRVL
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The Royal Navy made history again over the weekend as an F-35B Lightning II VSTOL fighter conducted the first ever Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) aboard the supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Under the control of BAE test pilot Peter "Wizzer" Wilson, the aircraft executed the highly skilled maneuver designed to allow the F-35B to land on the deck of a carrier while carrying a heavy load of fuel and weapons, without the need for arrestor cables.

Under normal circumstances, when the F-35B returns from a mission, it lands by activating its lift fan and vectoring its tail thruster downward. It then hovers alongside the carrier deck before sliding sideways and then dropping to the flight deck.

It's a maneuver that works, but the fighter can only manage vertical flight when it is carrying a minimal payload of fuel and munitions. This means that if the aircraft has to return to base early and with a full weapons load, it requires the pilot to make a very expensive jettisoning before he can land.

A Merlin Mk4 From 845 Naval Air Squadron takes off in the SAR role as UK test pilot Peter Wilson, prepares to take off to conduct the worlds first SRVL
A Merlin Mk4 From 845 Naval Air Squadron takes off in the SAR role as UK test pilot Peter Wilson, prepares to take off to conduct the worlds first SRVL

To avoid this, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have developed SRVL, where the F-35B lands by approaching the carrier like a conventional aircraft but, as it comes in, uses its thruster and fan to blow air over the wings to create additional lift. This enables it to touch down gently and stop in a very short distance, even with a full load.

According to the Navy, Britain is the only country that uses SRVL and it has already been tested thousands of times in a simulator.

"I'm excited and thrilled to have achieved this," says Wilson. "I've worked on this for the past 17 years and it's fantastic to know that it's matched the modeling and simulation we have done over the years. I've flown more than 2,000 SRVLs in the simulator, and am honored to have been able to do the first one on board HMS Queen Elizabeth."

UK test pilot Peter Wilson
UK test pilot Peter Wilson

The landing was carried out under the supervision of Lieutenant Christopher Mould, the Queen Elizabeth's Landing Safety Officer, and was observed by test pilot Major Michael Lippert of the US Marine Corps. Just as The Navy and the RAF have sent pilots to America to hone their carrier skills and learn how to fly the F-35, the US military has personnel like Major Lippert aboard Queen Elizabeth to learn about British innovations.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently off the Atlantic coast of the United States, where it is carrying out flight training as well as sea trials with other warships. Last month, it conducted the first F-35B landing on the giant carrier and the first night landings shortly thereafter.

The video below shows the historic F-35B SRVL landing.

Sources: Royal Navy, BAE Systems

F-35 pilot makes history with revolutionary way of landing jet on board HMS Queen Elizabeth

View gallery - 5 images
5 comments
PaleDale
"the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have developed SRVL" I thought this was a selling point of the aircraft and the plan all along?
owlbeyou
>Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) Where's the roll? >the aircraft executed the highly skilled maneuver designed to allow the F-35B to land on the deck of a carrier while carrying a heavy load of fuel and weapons I did not see any weapons in the video and the wobble did not give me any confidence.
With the development of all the variants of the F-35 at this stage years later, why haven't the bugs been ironed out yet? It is a formidable jet fighter with lots of promise, but now that they've all been grounded due to a recent accident, will it become an expensive boondoggle? There's an enormous risk at stake here on this complicated machine.
anthony28
PaleDale - how was SRVL a selling point? You buy a STOVL aircraft for its ability to take off and land in confined spaces. Check. The RN and RAF have enhanced this process by enabling heavier landing loads using the SRVL technique. Wasn't a "selling point".
anthony28
owlbeyou - the "roll" is because the aircraft is still rolling forward while landing vertically, as opposed to simply a vertical drop as all STOVL do. And the word "designed" means it CAN allow the aircraft to land while carrying heavy loads/weapons, not that it is. Would you think it a good idea to load an aircraft up with weapons while testing a new flying technique?!? The F35 was grounded for about 2 days for checks. Fuel line replaced. Sorted. Amazing that you think the most advanced and expensive aircraft in history should have just been made perfect instantly. Most aircraft spend about 10 years to get fully airworthy. Which is what the F35 has. But that's no guarantee, Concorde flew decades before issues arose to force its retirement. Accidents and incidents will always happen.
PaleDale
Silly me, I figured that if you can do a Short Take using a combination of vectored thrust and wing lift, the reverse of that would have been obvious from the start... STOL: Short Take Off AND Landing...