F35 simulator

The UK and the US have jointly conducted piloted flight simulation trial at the BAE Systems‘ F35 Simulation facility at Warton to test new concepts for landing fixed wing aircraft on aircraft carriers.

The trials demonstrated a new shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) manoeuvre concept, designed by BAE for recovering the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Lockheed Martin-built F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter on to the deck of its new Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carriers.

Both the nations have developed enhanced aircraft flight controls and displays for the F35C carrier variant arrested recovery and the F35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant SRVL recovery to the aircraft carrier.

During the testing, the enhanced control law modes for F35C arrested recoveries have been validated to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, resulting in positive feedback from the US Navy and F35 test pilots.

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"What we’ve been able to test in this simulated environment allows us to inform future concepts of operation."

The US Naval Air Systems Command Aeromechanics division James Denham 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," Denham added.

The SRVL manoeuvre offers enhanced ‘bring back’ payload, including weapons and fuel, capability for the F-35 aircraft when compared to vertical landings owing to the wing lift created by forward airspeed at touchdown.

Further trials to test the same control law mode for F35B SRVL recoveries are scheduled to commence soon for the UK’s QEC aircraft carriers with the US Navy observing.


Image: An F35 simulator. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.

Defence Technology