I'm curious, because they obviously don't have those huge rotors pushing the air away, but they are still getting their upward thrust from somewhere.

My gut says, yes, but it is more difficult. Is this right?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't believe the Harrier can since it uses its main engine and runs the thrust through ducts to produce lift. There is no rotor to stall as you descend through your downwash. The V-22 or F-35 may be a different story because it does use a lift fan or tilt-rotor. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 30, 2017 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


The main problem with VRT is the airflow through the rotor which is disturbed because it is ingesting its own downwash.


The large area of air accelerated downwards keeps being sucked back in to the rotor because the helicopter sinks back into it. In this state the rotor provides very little thrust - it acts as a sort of divide-by-zero state, as the transition between normal flight and windmilling when the air streams upwards.

The flow field of the Harrier is different:

  • Thrust is produced inside the engine, which is shielded from the effects of aircraft vertical velocity: air is sucked in through the inlet next to the cockpit.
  • The air stream velocities are higher. Air is accelerated downward in a much smaller area at much higher velocities. There is no fuselage which partially decelerates the airstream, like in a helicopter: the downward flow field is much cleaner.

The defining problem of VRS is the lack of thrust from the rotor at downward velocities, this would not occur with the shrouded jet engine of the Harrier.

  • $\begingroup$ I would imagine the VTOL version of the F35 would be more at risk due of vortex rings due to the fan $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Oct 1, 2017 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ "Does never seem to be"... seems to be missing something. $\endgroup$
    – T.J.L.
    Oct 2, 2017 at 15:08

No. Considering that lift is created by the downward wash of jet exhaust as opposed to air flow through a powered lift disc, this phenomena isn't encountered here.

Harriers do have a problem called blowback where hot section exhaust can be ingested into the engine, causing a flameout in cases of high descent rates or where the landing pad becomes flooded with exhaust gases, causing them to be reingested into the engine.


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