US, UK Test New Aircraft Landing Concepts for Aircraft Carriers
- Equipment & technology
Landing fixed wing aircraft on aircraft carriers could be revolutionised thanks to a recent piloted flight simulation trial. The trial saw UK and US partners on the F35 programme use BAE Systems’ F35 Simulation facility at Warton to test new concepts for landing.
Bae Systems has been actively involved in the design of the Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) manoeuvre being developed for the UK MOD when the F35B Lightning II Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft and the new Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) Aircraft Carriers come into operational service.
The SRVL manoeuvre provides enhanced ‘bring back’ meaning the aircraft is capable of bringing back more payload i.e. weapons and fuel over vertical landings owing to the wing lift created by forward airspeed at touchdown.
Joint research efforts on both sides of the Atlantic have developed enhanced aircraft flight controls and displays which are applicable to both the F35C Carrier Variant arrested recovery and the F35B STOVL variant SRVL recovery to the aircraft carrier, albeit separated by some 70 knots approach airspeed.
The recent flight simulation trials at Warton tested these enhanced control law modes for F35C arrested recoveries to a Nimitz class carrier and gained positive feedback from the US Navy and F35 test pilots involved in the trial.
James Denham (Aeromechanics division at the US Naval Air Systems Command) said: “During this trial we’ve identified improvements to deliver more accurate touchdowns, less bolters and reduced pilot training. Ultimately, what we’ve been able to test in this simulated environment allows us to inform future Concepts of Operation. The co-ordination and co-operation between us all has been extraordinary.”
The facility at Warton is currently engaged in supporting UK carrier integration and risk reduction studies, realistically simulating the landing and take-off characteristics of a F35B STOVL variant to and from the Queen Elizabeth class carrier allowing engineers and pilots to help define and refine the design, layout and operations for both platforms. The work being undertaken in the simulator is generating large savings as refinements can be fed into the design phase of both programmes.
The simulator can also be switched to represent the F35C Carrier Variant and US Nimitz carrier deck, as was demonstrated in this trial. Further trials are due to take place soon to test the same control law mode for F35B SRVL recoveries to the UK’s QEC aircraft carriers with the US Navy observing.
Press Release, March 27, 2014; Image: BAE Systems