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U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ship Set Sail with 13 Stealth Fighters


The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America in 2019 has set sail across the Pacific region with no fewer than 13 U.S. Marine Corps F-35 B stealth fighters aboard.


U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ship Set Sail with 13 Stealth Fighters 925 001 U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (Picture source: U.S. Navy)


The current cruise represents the latest effort by the Navy and Marines to develop procedures and tactics for operating the Navy’s 10 assault ships as light carriers, each packing more aerial firepower than most of the world’s air forces.

As an earlier proof of concept, USS Wasp in March 2019 deployed to the Pacific region with no fewer than 10 F-35Bs aboard. America in May 2019 forward-deployed to Japan, freeing up Wasp to return to the United States for maintenance.

By comparison, Navy assault ship usually embarks just six F-35s or older AV-8B Harrier jump jets plus dozens of helicopters. The vessels can increase their fixed-wing component by reducing the number of helicopters. At a minimum, an assault ship needs just a pair of H-60 helicopters for search and rescue.

A Lightning carrier would embark between 16 and 20 F-35s, compared to the roughly 40 strike fighters that a supercarrier normally carries. An assault ship in the light-carrier role should be able to sustain 40 sorties per day, the Marines estimated. A new Ford-class supercarrier, by contrast, is supposed to be able to sustain 160 sorties per day.

With 10 Wasp- and America-assault ships each carrying 20 or more F-35s plus another 10 Nimitz-class supercarriers (and new Ford-class supercarriers under construction), the United States possesses at least 20 aircraft carriers.