The Wasp’s New Heat-Resistant Deck Coating

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.



  • RunningBear

    The dome mount was instrumented for the “Bee” tests of sound and heat measurement. Easy off, easy on! Thermion (new tough stuff) is also to be tested for the V-22 and if successful will replace (on attrition) deck material for both type a/c landing platforms, LHA, LHD, etc..

  • Lance

    That’s bad news for the B model F-35. The cost of retrofitting all carrier and assault ship decks would cost alot more and in a tight fisted era could prove fatal for the B.

    • wpnexp

      That is silly. To suggest that we would cut a multi-billion dollar fighter program due to resurfacing of a ship deck is silly. Especially since the new deck coating would also be useful for current aircraft like Harriers, V-22s and other aircraft.

  • Guest

    The Thermion is not the large patch of dark gray non-skid that the jet pictured is landing on. Thermion is the small lighter gray rectangle at the very back of the darker area. Notice the lighter yellow aft on the tram line and the light gray area next to it. That is the Thermion.

    The rest is standard non-skid.

  • Guest

    Lance, read what running Bear said — if it was effective, Thermion will be used as a replacement material for standard non-skid when a ship goes through the yards for standard refit.

    If it worked, what a concept — equal or more effective, more durable, and cost-neutral compared to the old stuff.

  • Hunter78

    Oh, good, now they can land Harriers.

  • Kski

    Well at least it won’t melt our own flight decks.



  • Zach

    i thought the USS Intrepid picked him up?

    • mhmm…

      Wasp picked up plenty of Gemini capsules but no Scot Carpenter or Mercury capsules

  • itfunk

    Expensive and difficult to maintain but when your looking at 1 trillion dollars in maintenance costs to keep the F-35 flying you might as well hit up the Chinese for a few billion more.

  • jatsims

    The deck coating is by a company called Thermion.


    NAVSEA better revisit their archives on arc wire spray coatings. I inspected the USS Long Beach helicopter deck back in the 80’s after the ship had the arc wire spray slip resistant coating applied by Long Beach Naval Shipyard during an overhaul availability. The coating was delaminating and had to be replaced with conventional two part non-skid system. I

    • Bill Barnett

      I agree with you ABRET, back in the 80’s things like proper substrate surface profile and keeping the substrate clean prior to application were not followed. Flame Spray Aluminum or FSA was thought to be a good method for corrosion abatement. Not much consideration was given to the corrosion cell effect that would eventually develop. Thermion however and the proper application of the product seems to have taken all these things into consideration. It looks like the product is holding up well and serving it’s intended purpose.

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  • Dave

    The Thermion on USS WASP remains in service. Since that time the NAVY has installed Thermion on spots 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9.
    USS BATAAN has received the same installation. USS AMERICA LHA-6 flight deck landing spots are being thermal sprayed with a different material.

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