Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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.

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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.

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Marine Corps F-35s recently carried out the first at-sea "hot reload" of ordnance, dropping 1,000-pound bombs in the Pacific in rapid succession, the service said in a statement.

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After eighteen years of troubled and controversial development, the Lockheed F-35 Lightning stealth fighter may soon enter mass production, many of its bugs having been expensively squashed after delivery of an initial four-hundred "low-rate-of-initial-production" aircraft.

However, a June 2019 scoop by Defense News journalists Valerie Insinna, David Larter and Aaron Mehta has revealed thirteen serious Category-1 flaws remain.

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Becky Cleveland)

The Marine Corps is offering up to $280,000 to certain pilots as it faces shortages in certain billets, Corps officials have announced.

"The aviation populations targeted are Captains (O-3s) and Majors (O-4s) within the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, MV-22 Osprey, C-130 Hercules, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra, and CH-53 Stallion communities," Lt. Gen. Michael Rocco, deputy commandant for Manpower & Reserve Affairs, said in a statement.

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A bird reportedly managed to bang up an F-35 stealth fighter to the tune of at least $2 million.

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