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The Marine Corps could deploy more F-35-laden 'Lightning Carriers' amid high demand for flattops, Navy secretary says
When Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer pitched sending an aircraft carrier into early retirement, he had an idea for how to answer the call for flattops around the world: an amphibious assault ship loaded up with F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jets.
Spencer said he had big plans for what he could do with the $3.8 billion the Navy could save by retiring the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman decades before planned. But the idea to forgo refueling the carrier's nuclear reactor core was unpopular on Capitol Hill and eventually reversed by President Donald Trump.
As the Navy grapples with aircraft carrier maintenance issues, Spencer said he's looking at new options. One possibility is loading up big-deck amphibious assault ships with F-35B Lightning aircraft and sending them out in place of carriers.
"My cost performance there is tremendous," he said at a recent event in Washington, D.C. "Does it have the same punch? No, it doesn't. But it does have a very interesting sting to it."
Marines are already testing the concept. Earlier this month, more than a dozen F-35B aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 landed on the amphibious assault ship America in the Pacific.
That ship, which was built without a well deck, is designed to be a mini "Marine carrier" since it has more room for aircraft.
Spencer said he wants to see 20 F-35Bs, which are designed to operate from amphibious assault ships, on the America's flight deck.
"You might see us do that in the near future," he said. "We might just launch it out once -- try it out, put it in a couple of exercises and know that we have it up our sleeve."
The Marine Corps called the test on the America "the birth of the most lethal, aviation-capable amphibious assault ship to date." Lt. Col. John Dirk, VMFA-122's commanding officer, said in a news release about the exercise that adding the F-35Bs' sensors and weapons to the amphib fleet is a "lethal combination."
Thirteen U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), are staged aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) on Oct. 8, 2019(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chad Swysgood)
The Navy has struggled to fill combatant commanders' requests for carriers. In March, the former head of U.S. Central Command said he couldn't always get a carrier to the Middle East when he wanted one.
Last weekend, the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group's crews were told they'd have their deployment extended again as the Navy works to repair electrical problems on the carrier set to replace it in the Middle East. Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke said last week that he's "very concerned" about carrier maintenance.
Spencer said the money he could save by deploying "Lightning carriers" in place of refueling the Truman could've gone toward much-needed upgrades to Navy technology as the U.S. braces to take on a near-peer adversary. He said the service needs to spend that money on artificial intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing, quantum computing, unmanned ships and other high-tech updates.
"People came up to me and said, 'Are you out of your mind, secretary? Not refueling the Truman ... that's just insane,'" Spencer said.
But if the sea services are going to be ready for the next fight, he said they must be allowed to ditch inefficient equipment. The Ford-class carriers will be able to fly 30% more sorties and operate with 25% fewer people on board than the Nimitz-class ships, he added.
"It's an efficiency game changer," Spencer said. "So let me abandon an older vessel and move to the newer fleet."
This article originally appeared on Military.com
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- The Marine Corps Is Changing How It Promotes Sergeants and Staff Sergeants. Here's How
- 2 More Co-Ed Marine Boot Camp Companies Train Together at Parris Island
- 4-Star: Some Requests for Carriers in Middle East Are Getting Turned Down
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The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.
"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.
WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."
"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.
"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.
The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.
Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.
The Pentagon’s troop deployment denials means nothing when the White House screams ‘fake news’ all the time
The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.
We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."
"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"