Lockheed Martin has received a $13 million contract to incorporate a shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) capability with the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B, with the work to be performed on behalf of the UK.
The US Navy announced details of the Joint Strike Fighter award on 6 October, just two weeks before the UK’s coalition government will disclose the details of its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) process. This has assessed the nation’s long-term military requirements, including major equipment acquisitions such as the F-35 and two future aircraft carriers.
Developed by the UK, the SRVL technique will enable the F-35B to return to an aircraft carrier’s deck carrying more weapons or fuel than possible when making a vertical landing.
Qinetiq has supported previous development work, including the use of its VAAC Harrier demonstrator aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.
A research simulator installed at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down site in Wiltshire has also been used to model the SRVL performance of the F-35B with the UK’s 65,000t Queen Elizabeth-class future aircraft carrier design.
The US Marine Corps has also shown interest in potentially using the SRVL technique with its own F-35B fleet.