Landing aboard a carrier is much different than a conventional landing ashore, so carrier aviators spend a lot of time practicing. But before they go to sea, they practice ashore, mimicking as closely as possible the carrier environment, in a routine known as Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP), or “bouncing.”

Similarly, the AV-8B and F-35B use a unique approach to landing aboard the Navy’s big deck amphibious warfare ships of the LHD and LHA classes.  The normal routine is to make an approach from astern of the ship, but offset to parallel the port side.  When alongside the desired landing spot, the jet then slides sideways to starboard until it is over the landing spot. Only then does it descend vertically, and then simply taxies out of the way for the next jet.

In order to train for this, MCAS Yuma, AZ actually has an auxiliary field that is shaped and marked like the deck of an LHD, and pilots routinely practice there.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtBeR0FmaHo]

Say what you will about the pros and cons of the program, but it certainly is interesting to watch.

6 thoughts on “F-35B FCLP”

  1. I noticed in the takeoff at the end that it doesn’t look like the plane gets airborne until after it leaves the “ship.” Is that just a trick of perspective, or do the pilots get a certain amount of fudge factor to compensate for the lack of wind over deck, etc.?

    1. I *think* it’s an optical illusion, a trick of perspective, if you will. On the other hand, at sea, the jet can count on at least 15-20 knots of headwind, shortening the run, plus the 60′ or so of altitude to trade for airspeed after crossing the bow.

  2. I am a longtime JSF skeptic. Particularly the USMC STOVL version.

    It is a cool video, though.

  3. The set of doors behind the fan intake. Is that an alternate engine intake to avoid messing up fan flow from the main intakes?

    1. Some googling tells me that those are the auxiliary air inlet doors. Since the lift fan is two-stage, maybe those allow the second stage to move more air?

  4. Last week the Marines in Yuma did some very successful live weapons drops with the F-35B, also, in preparation for declaring IOC in July.

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