The US Marine Corps (USMC), along with the US Navy, have demonstrated the ‘lightning carrier’ concept using America-class landing helicopter assault (LHA) carrier, USS Tripoli.
The demonstration saw the participation of 20 aircraft, out of which 16 jets were from the Marine Aircraft Group 13 (MAG 13) and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW).
Other four aircraft were from the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1.
During the demonstration, all the aircraft operated from the USS Tripoli ship at a high tempo.
The lightening carrier exercise validated that amphibious assault ships can provide lethal access and strike capabilities to the naval and joint force.
US Navy Tripoli commanding officer captain Joel Lang said: “This demonstration proved the versatility of the America-class assault carrier, with its ability to embark either two squadrons of F-35Bs and a MAG command element, or a battalion-sized landing force and the associated assault support [12 MV-22B Ospreys, four CH-53E Super Stallions, and six F-35B Lightning II].
“For the fleet commander, both options are formidable and sustainable.”
Prior to the latest ‘lightning carrier’ concept, the USMC used the AV-8B Harrier aircraft to demonstrate the “Harrier carrier” concept with the amphibious assault ships.
The new concept, developed by the US Marine Corps, further continues to refine its techniques, methods and tactics to support various integrated naval operations.
Besides, it will not alter the standard build of an Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The demonstration also allowed the USMC’s Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 (VMFA-225), the newest F-35 squadrons, to operate at the sea for the first time.
VMFA-225 commanding officer lieutenant colonel Alexander Goodno said: “The fifth-generation capability of the F-35B brings a significant advancement in capability to the combatant commanders, not only as a lethal strike aircraft but with the vast array of sensors that come with the F-35B’s avionics suite.”