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Utility of the Ski Jump

Old 11-29-2009, 11:16 AM
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Default Utility of the Ski Jump

Marine Harrier Pilots (or other Gator Navy folks) -

I was watching a show last night on the evolution of the Aircraft Carrier (Military Channel - 'Weapons Races').
It featured a segment on the LHA/LHDs too.
I noticed that ALL other nations that operate the Harrier (Spain, Italy, Great Britian, and India) used the ski jump as a means of launching thier Harriers.
Even the Chinese and Russians were using ski jumps on their conventional carriers launching their SU-33 - citing the maintenance and cost issues of the catapult system.

What is the current thought process in our Gator Navy for sticking with the traditional Helo-V/STOL carrier and not utilizing a ski jump? I'm pretty sure the reasons I've heard in the past for using a jump included an increase in the safety margin and the increased payloads available on takeoff. I've heard reasons against the ski jump to include use (loss) of deck space and mixed operations between Helos/Harriers.

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