Sunday, April 07, 2019

The USS Wasp just deployed with 10 F-35Bs while the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will carry 12 in peace time deployments?

I've been trying to wrap my head around the USMC's chase to turn LHDs into light carriers.  For the life of me I can't understand it.

BUT!  The back of the paper tally of things seems to indicate that it's at least "doable".  I used for comparison the most capable carrier in allied service (in my opinion) the Queen Elizabeth.  I used Wikipedia for a quick and dirty and got this....

The two ships of the Queen Elizabeth class are each expected to be capable of carrying forty aircraft, a maximum of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters.[92] The 2010 SDSR anticipated the routine peacetime deployment of twelve F-35Bs, but a typical warload will be 24 F-35Bs and some helicopters.[15] These could be a Maritime Force Protection package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM2 and five Merlin Crowsnest for airborne early warning; alternatively a Littoral Manoeuvre package could include a mix of Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force Merlin HC4, Wildcat AH1, RAF Chinooks, and Army Air Corps Apaches.[15] As of September 2013 six landing spots are planned, but the deck could be marked out for the operation of ten medium helicopters at once, allowing the lift of a company of 250 troops.[15] The hangars are designed for CH-47 Chinook operations without blade folding and for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, whilst the aircraft lifts can accommodate two Chinooks with unfolded blades.[93]
I'm just spitballing here but let's assume that the max number of F-35Bs that the America Class LHD can carry numbers 20 or maybe a couple less.

Let's assume that the Marine Corps/Navy is looking at surge operations.  Remember that before Mattis left office one of his initiatives was to change how deployments are carried out.  Shorter deployments.  Multiple ships leaving at the same time (we just saw that with a couple of carriers that departed their home port in San Diego together).  In other words the ability to rapidly project naval power in short notice operations while preserving the fleet for high intensity ops.

Could part of the thinking involve tailored air wings not for the MEU, but for missions?  The MAGTF concept but tailored toward the Wing and the big deck amphibs?

Sea Control?  An LHD with F-35Bs and a few Sea Hawks.  Our "new style" HA/DR?  A deck full of CH-53s and UH-1Ys.  SOCOM bitch work? A deck full of MV-22s, a couple of AH-1Zs and maybe 6 F-35s.

And of course the standard Air Wing mix to provide for our MEUs.

Is it in keeping with Marine Corps doctrine?  I have to admit it is.  Could this plan de-nude the MEU of what we consider standard air support?  Depending on the situation, yes.  Does it provide for alot more flexibility to the NCA and Combatant Commanders?  Yeah.  Yeah it does.

Does ANYONE know what the Marine Corps is thinking with the light carrier concept and am I anywhere close to the mark here or off on a wild tangent?

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