HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division has authenticated the keel for the USS Fallujah (LHA 9) – the US Navy’s fourth America-class Land Helicopter Assault (LHA) amphibious assault ship.
At the ceremony on 20 September, US Navy Under Secretary Erik Raven commented: “The USS Fallujah, like her predecessors the USS America, USS Tripoli and USS Bougainville, will one day join the amphibious fleet, and serve as the centerpiece for amphibious ready groups and Marine Expeditionary Units.
“L-class ships like the future USS Fallujah make our Navy and Marine Corps a potent fighting team, forward-postured around the globe, ready to respond to crisis and disaster.”
Timeline of the America-class
The America-class replaced the seven previous Wasp-class amphibious assault ships that operated between 1989 and 2009.
HII delivered USS America (LHA 6) in April 2014 and commissioned in October that year. The manufacturer commissioned LHA 7, otherwise known as USS Tripoli, in July 2020. While HII laid the keel of the USS Bougainville (LHA 8) in June 2016, and the ship has been under construction since then.
LHA 6 has a hangar large enough to accommodate aircraft movement. The vessel also has increased aviation fuel capacity, and storage for aviation parts and support equipment. With its 45,000t displacement and complement of strike fighters, it can serve in the small carrier role.
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The Navy fitted its America-class ships with the ship self-defence system (SSDS) developed by Raytheon. SSDS comprises software and commercial off-the-shelf hardware. It integrates radars with anti-air weapons, including hard-kill (missiles and rapid-fire gun systems) and soft-kill (decoys).
A hybrid mechanical-electric propulsion system powers the vessels. The system consists of two LM2500+ gas turbines and two 5,000hp auxiliary propulsion motors. Each gas turbine is rated at 35,290shp and provides speeds over 22k.
Structure of the USS Fallujah
The future USS Fallujah is another large-deck amphibious assault ship and the second vessel in the class to be built with a well deck to dock amphibious landing craft.
Similar to Bougainville, Fallujah will retain the aviation capability of the America-class design while adding the surface assault capability of a well deck and a larger flight deck configured for F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey aircraft.
These large-deck amphibious assault ships also include medical facilities with full operating suites and triage capabilities.