The US Navy has fitted out its USS America next-gen amphibious assault ship with a baker’s dozen F-35 fighter jets and sent them out on deployment, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has said.
The US Navy has 20 aircraft carriers in its inventory, allowing the Pentagon to project power and engage in bombing operations against virtually any country on the planet (if it doesn’t have an effective air and coastal defense system, that is).
The lightning carrier concept proposes a larger, more disaggregated, more dispersed naval force which could hit the enemy across multiple locations amid the growing vulnerability of US carrier strike groups to more and more sophisticated hyper-sonic missile systems developed and fielded by countries including Russia and China.
Even Iran, whose missile capabilities include only conventional high explosive ballistic and supersonic cruise missiles, has proven enough of a threat for the USA to keep its carriers out of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean waters near Iran’s coast.
The USS America, the lead ship of its class, was commissioned in late 2014, and is designed to carry Marine forces for amphibious assault operations using Osprey helicopters.
A second ship of the class, the Tripoli, was launched in 2017, but has yet to be commissioned. A third America-class vessel, the Bougainville, was laid down in March 2019.
The gas turbine-powered vessels have a maximum speed of 20 knots, a complement of 1,059 officers and crew plus nearly 1,700 Marines, and a variety of electronic warfare, decoy and sensor systems, as well as anti-aircraft and close-in weapons systems for protection.
Meanwhile, despite the Marine commander’s boasting about the F-35, the fifth-generation fighter jet has long become the butt of many jokes over its $1.5 trillion price tag and a slew of problems ranging from the accuracy of its weapons to issues with its sophistical maintenance and logistics software to concerns regarding the reliability of its lone engine.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2020.