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Posted by John Keller

Every now and then I run across things that although they have little, if anything, to do with aerospace and defense electronics, still stop me in my tracks. Here's one I tripped over this morning: did you know the hot exhaust from the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft is buckling the flight decks of the Navy's big-deck amphibious assault ships?

I didn't either, but this phenomenon hasn't escaped the attention of thermal management materials experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va. (story continues below video)

It seems the V-22 "has resulted in ship flight deck buckling that has been attributed to the excessive heat impact from engine exhaust plumes," according to a broad agency announcement (BAA-10-10) issued this week from the DARPA Strategic Technology Office.

I suppose Navy leaders could deal with hot gas plumes from the V-22; what really worries them, however, is the future deployment of the vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) versions of the future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which experts say could really cause some problems on the decks of aircraft carriers and the big-deck amphibs.

Too muck buckling caused by the V-22 and the F-35, and these flight decks are going to fail. DARPA has a nice way of explaining this.

"Navy studies have indicated that repeated deck buckling will likely cause deck failure before planned ship life. With the upcoming deployment of the F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), it is anticipated that the engine exhaust plumes may have a more severe thermo-mechanical impact on the non-skid surface and flight deck structure of ships," according to today's BAA.

Worse, nobody knows what to do about this problem, except to build new flight decks, which would be expensive, to say the last.

Instead, DARPA is looking around industry to see of anyone knows how to use thermal-management technologies and materials to build a non-skid, heat-resistant veneer that could fit over the flight decks of the carriers and amphibs to mitigate the effects of hot spots created by the exhaust from vertical-and-short-takeoff aircraft like the V-22 and F-35.

The primary candidates for this kind of thermally resistant flight deck applique are the Wasp- and America-class amphibious assault ships.

Okay, all you thermal-management experts: any takers out there? If so, drop an e-mail to DARPA at More information about this project is online at


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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.