There are a group of people in Internetland who view the F-35 (JSF) as a magic solution to virtually every problem the Navy faces. I’ve read proposals to put F-35B(s), the vertical takeoff and landing version (VTOL), on just about every platform that has a flight deck and some that don’t. The consensus of these people is that the F-35B can operate off the MLP, LCS, JHSV, logistics ships, commercial cargo ships that have a helo pad, and, in a pinch, lily pad off of Burkes, Ticos or any ship with a helo pad. Mini-squadrons of F-35Bs will be scattered all over the Navy on any ship with a helo pad. The day of the supercarrier is over!
The idea is appealing, I suppose, but it totally ignores the reality of operating a VTOL aircraft. Aside from the mundane issues like maintenance, parts, manning, etc., the F-35B is unlike any other aircraft. The downward directed jet exhaust is insanely hot - hotter than the Harrier by a wide margin.
|F-35B - Every Ship a Carrier?|
As reported by DoD Buzz website (1), the F-35 is proving to be incompatible with existing big deck amphibious ships in a variety of ways. The latest problems are heat and noise.
Thermion coatings will have to added to the decks of amphibious ships in order to allow them to operate the F-35B due to the extreme heat. Baffling will have to be added to the substructure of the flight decks to reduce unacceptably high noise levels. Testing has shown the F-35B jet exhaust causes warping and heat deformation of the existing decks – and these are decks that were built to withstand the downward exhaust of the Harrier which itself was a major problem.
Now, let’s reconsider the idea of operating the F-35B from the MLP, LCS, JHSV, and whatever other platform people have proposed. Those decks would pretty much instantly burn up and be destroyed under the F-35B exhaust. ComNavOps encourages out of the box thinking but it must be tempered by a bit of reality supported by a degree of research. Keep thinking but do your homework before you propose an idea!