MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Construction is underway on a simulated Landing Helicopter Dock aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. When completed, the dock will be located on the MCAS Beaufort flight line.
An LHD is a classification for amphibious assault ships which are capable of landing helicopters or vertical take-off and landing-capable jets like the F-35B Lightning II. These vessels are built with a full flight deck similar in appearance to an aircraft carrier to operate utility and attack helicopters.
"Pilots can rehearse landing [on the dock] before trying it on the real thing," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Seth Mangasarian, the public works officer for MCAS Beaufort. "Now pilots can get the training they require right here at the Air Station."
The simulated LHD will have all the working lights and equipment found aboard a ship. The base is solid concrete made exactly to the dimensions of the real one. The dock will also feature a control tower.
The F-35B is the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 series of aircraft. Once the LHD is complete, F-55B pilots will be able to hone their vertical landing skills.
The project is scheduled to be completed in less than a year.