Air Forces Monthly, May 2012, have an interesting article on the British F-35C/F-35B "will they won't they" situation currently ongoing.
Here is a direct quote from it:
"The F-35B can be described as a 'wheezy pig'. Its performance in the vertical landing regime means it cannot safely recover with a full load of weapons in the internal bays, particularly when operating in the 35-degree centigrade average summer temperatures in the Arabian and Indian Ocean. These weapon bays, already smaller than the F-35C, are limited to two AIM-120C missiles and two 500lb (230KG) Paveway IV bombs (actually 660lb/300kg with guidance kit). In order to have enough landing performance, the aircraft an only fly with two Paveways, relying on its Low Observability (LO) to defend itself from the thread of hostile aircraft. However, the limited impact of the 500lb Paveway when compared to the 2,000lb (900kg) Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) being flown in the F-35C causes the Coalition Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC) to remove the F-35B from the master attack plan on Day 1 of the conflict when the enemy integrated air defence system is still potent."
The article also highlights that the F-35B would not be carrying out a normal vertical landing on British carriers, instead it relies on something called a "Ship Rolling Vertical Landing", where there is a considerable forward vector component to the aircraft as it lands. This both increases the risk to the aircraft (with the F-35B already being made from lower strength materials), and increases deck area required to recover an aircraft.
Without SRVL, the F-35B cannot return a decent payload to the deck, meaning that expensive ordnance would have to be jettisoned each time.
With the lower range of the F-35B (compared to the F-35C), limitations in distances from alternative landing points is highlighted.
Personally, I'm against the F-35B buy for many reasons, and although the F-35C would be an acceptable alternative for the RN, I'd prefer for us to buy teh Superhornet or the Rafale at this stage - we get a proven aircraft, on time and on a set budget, with deliveries available much sooner allowing for better training and familiarisation, at a lower cost.
[Edited 2012-04-11 05:25:04]