Royal Navy invented a new way to land F-35s with heavy payloads. Watch: The UK Navy invented a new way to land F-35s with heavy payloads on their carriers
The United States isn’t the only nation that’s looking to develop ways to extend the range and combat capabilities of carrier-based fighters. HMS Queen Elizabeth is already working on ways to increase the capabilities of the F-35s that recently began operating on its flight deck.
F-35Bs are capable of taking off on very short runways and conducting vertical landings. This capability, while valuable as a means to deploy F-35s from more platforms, also comes with limitations.
F-35s can only land vertically if they’re carrying under a certain amount of weight — often meaning they can’t be carrying additional fuel tanks or a full payload of ordnance.
The Royal Navy, not content to field F-35s with any less than their full carry-capacity, had to find an alternative to vertical landings that was still possible aboard their vessels that lacked the arresting gear needed for traditional carrier landings.
Here is the solution they have found. watch:
The solution, they’ve found, is a sort of mix between the two. F-35Bs serving aboard UK carriers will approach the flight deck with their exhaust nozzles pointed straight down but while still moving forward — almost like a traditional aircraft landing being conducted in slow motion. By not attempting to hover and control a completely vertical descent, the fighters are able to conduct carrier landings while significantly heavier than Marine Corps F-35s can do on America-class amphibious ships.
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