via USNI News.
“In the 2017-2027 timeframe, the Marine Corps will possess the majority of naval 5th generation aircraft. By 2025, the Marine Corps will operate 185 F-35Bs—enough to equip all seven L-Class ships,” the plan reads.Semi-rant.
“While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier, it can be complementary, if employed in imaginative ways. The CV-L concept has previous been employed (five times) utilizing AV-8B Harriers in a ‘Harrier Carrier’ concept… A Lightning Carrier, taking full advantage of the amphibious assault ship as a sea base, can provide the naval and joint force with significant access, collection and strike capabilities.”
The Lightning Carrier concept includes an amphibious assault ship carrying 16 to 20 F-35Bs with four MV-22 Ospreys to refuel them – along with relying on the Distributed Aviation Operations’ forward-operating bases – and deploying either independently, as part of an Expeditionary Strike Group or as part of a Carrier Strike Group with a Navy aircraft carrier and guided-missile cruisers and destroyers.
“We might never need to employ this way – and may not want to, based upon the need to employ our amphibious ships in a more traditional role – but to not lean forward to develop this capability, to train and exercise with it, is to deny ourselves a force multiplier that highlights the agility and opportunity only the Navy-Marine Corps team can provide,” the plan reads.
Additionally, with growing global demands for naval aviation presence and upcoming opportunities such as the introduction of the LX(R) – which will be a much more sophisticated ship than the LSD dock landing ship it replaces – the aviation plan states “we must explore new and creative methods of deploying and employing the ACE in order to provide maximum flexibility, capabilities and value to the naval and joint force.”
I've heard this concept of an "all F-35" LHA/LHD bandied about too often for it to be a flash in the pan.
The head of Marine Air wants his baby carrier and wants it bad. The Ground Combat Element MUST be prepared to stand alone. It's beyond obvious that fast movers will be off either fighting/supporting the naval battle or they will be gladly partaking in USAF taskings.
Supporting the Marine on the ground is obviously becoming more and more of a fourth or fifth priority.
What does this mean? It means that EVERY exercise must include AH-1Zs and UH-1Ys. Its the only REAL hip pocket air support that ground commanders can rely on in the future. It means that EVERY exercise should include a potential air threat. The days of knowing that the planes flying overhead are ours is over. Additionally we need to act with haste to acquire a credible anti-air system that can operate with the maneuver force. A few Marines with Stinger missiles is no longer good enough. The LAV-AD of old isn't either. We need a credible, long range anti-air system at the Marine Expeditionary Brigade level. My preference would be that it's mounted on the ACV chassis but the platform is irrelevant (the US Army's MultiMission Launcher or SLAMRAAM on the JLTV will work too).
The Marine Expeditionary Unit is all but dead in the Marine Corps. So is the Air-Ground Task Force.
Marine Air is going its own way. The Ground Combat Element better prepare for the day when our aviators no longer wear camo helmet covers.