The US Navy and Marine Corps have collaborated to demonstrate the “Lightning carrier” concept involving the country’s F-35B Lightning II jets and amphibious assault carrier the USS Tripoli.
As part of the concept demonstration, 20 F-35B Lightning II fighters from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron operated from the USS Tripoli “at a high tempo.”
According to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, integrating the F-35B jets on amphibious assault ships can provide combatant commanders with more options when fulfilling military missions.
The demonstration also reportedly proves that assault carriers can be a lethal addition to US Navy and Marine strike groups.
“The exercise demonstrated the potential to utilize amphibious assault ships to provide the naval and joint force with lethal access, collection, and strike capabilities from fifth generation Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing aircraft in future operations,” the Marine Corps unit said.
All the data gathered from the activity will be utilized to enhance the Lightning carrier concept and continue to refine its tactics, techniques, and procedures to support various naval operations.
‘An Incredible Opportunity’
The USS Tripoli is the second America-class landing helicopter assault ship optimized to support rotary and fixed-wing operations. It has an expanded hangar bay, offering more space to perform aircraft maintenance than its predecessors.
US Navy Capt. Joel Lang asserted that the recent demonstration proved the versatility of the assault carrier, which can carry two squadrons of F-35Bs or a battalion-sized landing force.
“For the fleet commander, both options are formidable and sustainable,” he explained.
Meanwhile, US Marine Corps Col. Chad Vaughn revealed that he was “thrilled” when told to prepare for the integration of almost two dozen fifth-generation aircraft on the USS Tripoli.
He described the activity as “an incredible opportunity” to train Marine pilots and work alongside Navy personnel.
Like the Lightning carrier concept, another integration concept has used assault ships to carry the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft.