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The Marine Corps's dream of 'Lightning Carrier' laden with F-35s is slowly becoming a reality
Few things say "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum" like a Navy amphibious assault craft absolutely covered with Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters ready to bomb an adversary back to the Stone Age.
That's the logic behind the so-called "Lightning Carrier" concept designed to turn those "Gator Navy" amphibs into ad hoc aircraft carriers — and the Corps appears to be moving slowly but surely into turning that concept into a new doctrine for the new era of great power competition.
The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) is currently conducting "routing operations" in the eastern Pacific as part of a effort to "refine and strengthen the fundamental amphibious capabilities" of the Navy and Marine Corps, according to the Pentagon.
But those "routine operations" apparently include a contingent of around 13 F-35Bs visible on the America's flight deck, as our eagle-eyed friends at The War Zone point out, a slight increase over the ten aircraft spotted aboard the USS Wasp when the latter rolled through the disputed South China Sea this past April and the full dozen the USS America touted during a demonstration back in 2016.
The USS America rocks 13 F-35B Lightning II fighters in the Pacific
(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chad Swysgood)
Detailed in the Corps's 2017 Marine Aviation Plan, the Lightning Carrier concept suggests that service could by 2025 equip all seven of its amphibious assault ships with every one of its 185 VTOL-capable F-35Bs by deploying 16 and 20 aircraft to each vessel in a variation of the "Harrier Carrier" concept utilized with the force's AV-8B Harrier jump jets.
While the Wasp deployment was clearly a test of that concept, especially after the vessel's Marine F-35Bs conducted the service's first at-sea "hot reload" of ordnance by dropping munitions in quick succession on targets in the Pacific. But the next-generation America-class flattops that are "optimized for aviation capability" could end up fielding "nearly two dozen" aircraft at time, as The War Zone notes.
A possible "Lightning Carrier" configuration for the USS America (LHA-6)(U.S. Marine Corps photo)
At the moment, the Navy only has two America-class flattops out of a planned fleet of 11 at its disposal, but a full flotilla would prove a major asset beyond just building towards the service's ambitious goal of a 355-hull fleet: namely, filling the service's so-called "carrier gap" while the Pentagon continues to work out issues with its Ford-class aircraft carriers.
To do so, the Navy has been exploring pivoting amphibious readiness groups (ARGs) into "mini" carrier strike groups (CSGs). Indeed, the USS Essex and its ARG rolled up in the Persian Gulf last fall to perform some of the "CSG-like" functions, as Navy officials put it at the time, for the 5th fleet while the Truman carrier strike group sailed to the North Atlantic in support of NATO operations there,
"We're definitely changing the way amphibs are employed, especially on the blue side," Lt. Cmdr. David Mahoney, Amphibious Squadron 1 Operations Officer told USNI News at the time. "We're no longer just the trucks that carry Marines that we used to be."
Military veterans from throughout Northeast Florida came together Saturday morning to honor comrades in arms who were prisoners of war or missing in action, and remember their sacrifice.
After the plane landed, Pope Army Airfield was silent on Saturday.
A chaplain prayed and a family member sobbed.
Tarah McLaughlin's fingers traced her husband's flag-draped coffin before she pressed two fingers to her lips then pressed her fingers to the coffin.
The remains of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, also was killed in the same incident.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.