Remember a few weeks ago when we ran the picture above showing an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter hovering over what appears to be a new deck coating aboard the USS Wasp?
We wondered is the coating was designed to absorb the F-35B's hot exhaust that many had worried would melt the ship's deck. Well, the Navy has just put out a little more detail on the coating in a press release announcing the end of F-35B sea trials.
It turns out, this is indeed a new, heat-resistant deck coating called Thermion. It's made of bonded ceramic and aluminum and was applied to landing spot nine on the Wasp's flight deck -- "a small area used for vertical landings," according to the Navy.
The press release quotes a Navy technician who worked on the deck coating as saying, “the Thermion shows no signs of heat stress, which is good for the F-35, and eventually good for all surface ships.”
Interesting. I wonder if Thermion will be applied to the entire flight deck on amphibious assault ships slated to carry F-35Bs or is it too heavy and expensive to apply to the entire flight deck?
The Bravo isn't slated to return for more sea trials aboard the Wasp until 2013, "after Wasp receives additional modifications for F-35B operations," states the release.
Speaking of modifications, we also noticed that a large radome has been removed from the ship's port side, just off the flight deck area where the F-35s were landing. Relocating this radome could be one of the modifications the release is talking about.