Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Does the "Lightning Carrier" make sense?

via 3rd Marine Air Wing.
“The ‘Lightning Carrier’ is an LHA/LHD with a jet-heavy ACE embarked,” said Dirk. “Which means the MAGTF aviation element has more of a strike mindset with 12 or more jets that give the fleet or MAGTF commander the ability to better influence the enemy at range. Tying the sensors and weapons of the F-35B together with those of the fleet is a lethal combination.”
Integrating 3rd MAW’s combat power and capabilities while conducting realistic training is essential to generate readiness and lethality in 3rd MAW units and for naval integration.
“Our relationship with the Navy is important because if we go to war, we won’t be going as just a squadron. We will be going as a joint amphibious force” said Maj. Christopher Kelly, executive officer of VMFA-122. “Being able to deploy 12 or more F-35B’s on a naval vessel is realistic; it’s something that we can’t get every day at Marine Corps Air Stations Yuma, Camp Pendleton or Miramar.”
Training alongside each other enables the Navy and Marine Corps to improve tactical and technical procedures in terms of mutually supporting one another in the battlespace.
Employing 12 or more F-35B’s aboard an LHA aligns with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance. Partnership with an LHA is the right and relevant warfighting capability for many of the challenges confronting the joint force and provides substantial joint operational flexibility, lethality and survivability.
“The ‘Lightning Carrier’ concept is what we are exercising during this at-sea training,” said Dirk. “I think we will continue to see the Marine Corps exercise these capabilities in the future.”
3rd MAW paved the way for the first F-35B squadron in 2012 and will stand up the first F-35C squadron specifically designed for traditional aircraft carriers in 2020.
Article here.

Simple question.

Does the "Lightning Carrier" make sense?

In one swift move, we've tossed aside the Marine Air-Ground Task Force and utilized a big amphibious ship to use it as a light carrier instead of the hub of our assault operations.

Not my intention to expand this into a debate on "getting back to our sea roots" or the looming fight with China (although I have a hard time understanding how this move will enhance our ability in either arena).

I would like a tightly focused discussion.

Will this work?

Is this ship capable of flexing into real deal light carrier missions?  As we've seen it configured is it capable of leading a "light carrier battle group"?

What missions do they see this ship conducting?

Is it part of the sea battle?

Will it make amphibious operations more robust?

Does this concept justify busting up the MAGTF?

How do we make up for the lack of helos that comes with displacing so many of them in favor of F-35s?

I haven't read any professional discussion of this so it's up to my readers to fill in the blanks.  Hope you're up to the challenge!

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