Possibility small STOVL carrier USN/USMC

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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tincansailor

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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 06:06

Just what is the point here? What would be the point of turning an amphibious group into a light carrier group, that carries a couple of battalions of light infantry? You would only do that if you didn't have super carriers. Since we have both LHAs, and CVNs why would want to use LHAs as light carriers?

I understand the idea of wanting to fully exploit the operational potential of the F-35B, but your forgetting the purpose of an ARG is to putting marines ashore. All it's aviation assets are in support of that mission, not in substitution of that. Wars have been lost because of loss of operational focus.

It's been argued on this forum that CAS is a mission, and not to be confused with the A-10 or any other aircraft that might support that mission. The F-35B was created to support marine operations. By turning an LHA into a light carrier you would be reversing the mission to the marines being around to support F-35B operations.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 06:28

tincansailor wrote:Just what is the point here? What would be the point of turning an amphibious group into a light carrier group, that carries a couple of battalions of light infantry? You would only do that if you didn't have super carriers. Since we have both LHAs, and CVNs why would want to use LHAs as light carriers?


:poke: Well, as I pointed out in the 2017 Trump thread, if the Navy doesn't get serious about procuring F-35C's... you'll be needing the LHA Light(ning) Carriers to escort the CVNs.

On a serious note, the carrier battle group evolved from the WWII carrier battle group, which was created to defeat Japan -- our only near peer adversary in the Pacific. But today, is there any other nation that begins to rival the US Navy for control of the seas? I think the days of the massive naval engagement may be long gone. The PLAN may be able to contest in the South China Sea, but in the open Pacific? How many major surface fleets does Russia have? My point being that the primary purpose of the CVN battle group is to either conduct airstrikes (project power) against nations or non-state players (in barely functioning states), or to support the Marines (same as the LHA's). Either way you are conducting interdiction, CAS, or SEAD/DEAD (are there any more types of tactical air strikes?). But if the US ends up in a shooting war with a near peer, within reach of significant land-based air cover, and/or significant IADS, will the US Navy risk their CVNs by getting close enough to the enema so that the SHortnets can attack? Perhaps the better question is, will the SHornets be effective at all in the face of S-300 / S-400 IADS and, in the case of the South China Sea, lots of PLAAF fighters?

Without the F-35C, the future of Naval air almost seems pointless if its aircraft cannot get the job done. At that point, why have CVNs?

If the only thing left that can support the Marines or conduct strikes are F-35Bs... then the question naturally arises, on what do we base them? Converted container ships prepositioned as floating airfields? Or maybe we ask how many we can stuff onto an America class LHA?
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 06:33

tincansailor wrote:Just what is the point here? What would be the point of turning an amphibious group into a light carrier group, that carries a couple of battalions of light infantry? You would only do that if you didn't have super carriers. Since we have both LHAs, and CVNs why would want to use LHAs as light carriers?

I understand the idea of wanting to fully exploit the operational potential of the F-35B, but your forgetting the purpose of an ARG is to putting marines ashore. All it's aviation assets are in support of that mission, not in substitution of that. Wars have been lost because of loss of operational focus.

It's been argued on this forum that CAS is a mission, and not to be confused with the A-10 or any other aircraft that might support that mission. The F-35B was created to support marine operations. By turning an LHA into a light carrier you would be reversing the mission to the marines being around to support F-35B operations.


They don't want to tie a Ford or Nimitz Class Super Carrier to an Amphibious Group. Plus, they're not always available and are vulnerable that close to the Littorals. In addition 6-20 F-35B's based on LHA's/LHD's. Are not enough to support those Marines going ashore. Especially, against a large and well equipped opponent......
Last edited by Corsair1963 on 25 Jan 2017, 06:50, edited 4 times in total.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 06:41

I wasn't sure if this was the correct thread or not... the one where it was suggested to pre-position lots of converted container ships as floating auxiliary airfields?

This hair brained idea is for the gentleman that wanted to launch Killer Bees off of LCS ships...

Instead of pre-positioned container ships, you use pre-positioned oil drilling platforms. Those can be towed to a location and then "anchored." The idea here that you have four or six "landing pads" cantilevered off of the main "deck". You VTO / VL the F-35Bs off of these lillipads, and immediately IFR from MV-22s based at the same pads. You could have a few elevators to take the aircraft below deck for storage / maintenance.

The biggest drawback I see with this idea is that since they won't be floating around at 15kts... they could be targeted fairly easily by MRBM's (like the Chinese carrier killer). On the other hand... a suitable number of SM-6 missiles with Aegis might handle that threat. Say, thinking further... this F-35B lillipad base might make an excellent Aegis BMD base too...

See, I told you it was hair brained.

But... we'll need more F-35Bs, so LM is happy. We'll need a ton of MV-22s for refueling / COD duty... so Boeing will be happy. Base the MV-22s at a Marine base in Arizona so McCain gets a pacifier. Gilmore is out of the picture, so we don't care... Everyone is happy! (Except Maus. Sorry Maus.)
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 06:52

steve2267 wrote:I wasn't sure if this was the correct thread or not... the one where it was suggested to pre-position lots of converted container ships as floating auxiliary airfields?

This hair brained idea is for the gentleman that wanted to launch Killer Bees off of LCS ships...

Instead of pre-positioned container ships, you use pre-positioned oil drilling platforms. Those can be towed to a location and then "anchored." The idea here that you have four or six "landing pads" cantilevered off of the main "deck". You VTO / VL the F-35Bs off of these lillipads, and immediately IFR from MV-22s based at the same pads. You could have a few elevators to take the aircraft below deck for storage / maintenance.

The biggest drawback I see with this idea is that since they won't be floating around at 15kts... they could be targeted fairly easily by MRBM's (like the Chinese carrier killer). On the other hand... a suitable number of SM-6 missiles with Aegis might handle that threat. Say, thinking further... this F-35B lillipad base might make an excellent Aegis BMD base too...

See, I told you it was hair brained.

But... we'll need more F-35Bs, so LM is happy. We'll need a ton of MV-22s for refueling / COD duty... so Boeing will be happy. Base the MV-22s at a Marine base in Arizona so McCain gets a pacifier. Gilmore is out of the picture, so we don't care... Everyone is happy! (Except Maus. Sorry Maus.)


Problem is they need an affordable platform for enough F-35B's to support the mission. That is the current issue....
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 07:00

madrat wrote:I'm warm to the idea that you can operate bombers from land bases and using aerial refueling to take out targets of opportunity. Ship movement is difficult to hide these days. But stealth bomber aircraft have plenty of blind spots to maneuver still, giving little to no warning. And for less dangerous environments, gunships can still be masked by commercial activity.

Otherwise it seems silly to go to the expense of an F-35B specific flattop. It's difficult to justify over other overlapping capabilities. I love the sound of a terrorist hunting warship, complete with F-35B. But terrorists are more effectively neutralized with bigger aircraft.


Sorry, land based aircraft are often to far away to offer timely support. If, that was the case we wouldn't need aircraft carriers in the first place.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 07:42

:devil: I have hair covering my brain for schemes.... how about at an interim gap filler ONLY having the CVNs host a squadron of F-35Bs in case of emergency - break glass/USN heads - that means the same way V-22 was trialled on several CVNs, the Bees would have to be trialled on a CVN - roll on the SRVL trials on CVFs. Now I'll go & shave me head harebrain..... :drool:
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 08:14

steve2267 wrote:
tincansailor wrote:Just what is the point here? What would be the point of turning an amphibious group into a light carrier group, that carries a couple of battalions of light infantry? You would only do that if you didn't have super carriers. Since we have both LHAs, and CVNs why would want to use LHAs as light carriers?


:poke: Well, as I pointed out in the 2017 Trump thread, if the Navy doesn't get serious about procuring F-35C's... you'll be needing the LHA Light(ning) Carriers to escort the CVNs.

On a serious note, the carrier battle group evolved from the WWII carrier battle group, which was created to defeat Japan -- our only near peer adversary in the Pacific. But today, is there any other nation that begins to rival the US Navy for control of the seas? I think the days of the massive naval engagement may be long gone. The PLAN may be able to contest in the South China Sea, but in the open Pacific? How many major surface fleets does Russia have? My point being that the primary purpose of the CVN battle group is to either conduct airstrikes (project power) against nations or non-state players (in barely functioning states), or to support the Marines (same as the LHA's). Either way you are conducting interdiction, CAS, or SEAD/DEAD (are there any more types of tactical air strikes?). But if the US ends up in a shooting war with a near peer, within reach of significant land-based air cover, and/or significant IADS, will the US Navy risk their CVNs by getting close enough to the enema so that the SHortnets can attack? Perhaps the better question is, will the SHornets be effective at all in the face of S-300 / S-400 IADS and, in the case of the South China Sea, lots of PLAAF fighters?

Without the F-35C, the future of Naval air almost seems pointless if its aircraft cannot get the job done. At that point, why have CVNs?

If the only thing left that can support the Marines or conduct strikes are F-35Bs... then the question naturally arises, on what do we base them? Converted container ships prepositioned as floating airfields? Or maybe we ask how many we can stuff onto an America class LHA?


steve your making some interesting points, but IMHO your missing the larger strategic picture. USN strategy for the Pacific War was based on the idea of a march across the Central Pacific securing island bases against Japan. Today the marines have a much lower profile mission in U.S. global strategy. They would support the army in major land operations, as in a new Korean War scenario. flanking operations in a land campaign as defending Norway from a Russian invasion. Or securing bases in the Persian Gulf to keep the Straights of Hormuz open.

The marines will not be landing on the shores of Russia, or China. As you point out the risk of placing major naval forces in range of anti ship forces from a near competitor power is very great. Tying them to a limited area for an extended period of time would put them at an even greater risk. The marines my fear a repeat of Guadalcanal, where the navy left them exposed to enemy naval, and air attack for long periods of time, but the navy fears being trapped in a shooting gallery like Okinawa.

No large scale amphibious operation would ever be even contemplated without first establishing naval and air superiority. Taking out an IADS, major air forces, or even the threat of ASCMs would be prerequisites to a major operation. I would add almost any conceivable amphibious operation would be a combined services operation. The navy will have F-35Cs, but they will also have F-35A, and B assets, along with other aircraft in an air task force controlled by a joint service commander.

The idea that the marines need to have forces to conduct operations separate from the navy, and the other services are unrealistic. The creation of the defense department was done to make coordination between the services work better then it did in WWII. Please paint a scenario in the modern world were the marines have to operate without land based air support, or a CBG. I just don't see it happening.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 08:24

tincansailor wrote:
steve2267 wrote:
tincansailor wrote:Just what is the point here? What would be the point of turning an amphibious group into a light carrier group, that carries a couple of battalions of light infantry? You would only do that if you didn't have super carriers. Since we have both LHAs, and CVNs why would want to use LHAs as light carriers?


:poke: Well, as I pointed out in the 2017 Trump thread, if the Navy doesn't get serious about procuring F-35C's... you'll be needing the LHA Light(ning) Carriers to escort the CVNs.

On a serious note, the carrier battle group evolved from the WWII carrier battle group, which was created to defeat Japan -- our only near peer adversary in the Pacific. But today, is there any other nation that begins to rival the US Navy for control of the seas? I think the days of the massive naval engagement may be long gone. The PLAN may be able to contest in the South China Sea, but in the open Pacific? How many major surface fleets does Russia have? My point being that the primary purpose of the CVN battle group is to either conduct airstrikes (project power) against nations or non-state players (in barely functioning states), or to support the Marines (same as the LHA's). Either way you are conducting interdiction, CAS, or SEAD/DEAD (are there any more types of tactical air strikes?). But if the US ends up in a shooting war with a near peer, within reach of significant land-based air cover, and/or significant IADS, will the US Navy risk their CVNs by getting close enough to the enema so that the SHortnets can attack? Perhaps the better question is, will the SHornets be effective at all in the face of S-300 / S-400 IADS and, in the case of the South China Sea, lots of PLAAF fighters?

Without the F-35C, the future of Naval air almost seems pointless if its aircraft cannot get the job done. At that point, why have CVNs?

If the only thing left that can support the Marines or conduct strikes are F-35Bs... then the question naturally arises, on what do we base them? Converted container ships prepositioned as floating airfields? Or maybe we ask how many we can stuff onto an America class LHA?


steve your making some interesting points, but IMHO your missing the larger strategic picture. USN strategy for the Pacific War was based on the idea of a march across the Central Pacific securing island bases against Japan. Today the marines have a much lower profile mission in U.S. global strategy. They would support the army in major land operations, as in a new Korean War scenario. flanking operations in a land campaign as defending Norway from a Russian invasion. Or securing bases in the Persian Gulf to keep the Straights of Hormuz open.

The marines will not be landing on the shores of Russia, or China. As you point out the risk of placing major naval forces in range of anti ship forces from a near competitor power is very great. Tying them to a limited area for an extended period of time would put them at an even greater risk. The marines my fear a repeat of Guadalcanal, where the navy left them exposed to enemy naval, and air attack for long periods of time, but the navy fears being trapped in a shooting gallery like Okinawa.

No large scale amphibious operation would ever be even contemplated without first establishing naval and air superiority. Taking out an IADS, major air forces, or even the threat of ASCMs would be prerequisites to a major operation. I would add almost any conceivable amphibious operation would be a combined services operation. The navy will have F-35Cs, but they will also have F-35A, and B assets, along with other aircraft in an air task force controlled by a joint service commander.

The idea that the marines need to have forces to conduct operations separate from the navy, and the other services are unrealistic. The creation of the defense department was done to make coordination between the services work better then it did in WWII. Please paint a scenario in the modern world were the marines have to operate without land based air support, or a CBG. I just don't see it happening.


Sorry, you could come up with many scenarios. Where USAF Tactical Fighters couldn't reach the littorals to support USN Amphibious Forces going ashore. Plus, many more that would prevent large Aircraft Carriers from participating as well. So, honestly it's perplexing on how you can't see the need. For more Air Support for USMC Amphibious Forces???
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 12:22

Corsair1963 wrote:Plus, many more that would prevent large Aircraft Carriers from participating as well. So, honestly it's perplexing on how you can't see the need. For more Air Support for USMC Amphibious Forces???


If you're afraid of sending your aircraft carriers supported by dozens of Aegis ships and subs near a combat zone because "China has missiles etc."...then how exactly do you fix that by building what is essentially an aircraft carrier for the Marines and sending that into harms way without those dozens of USN escorts?

I mean, if a 10-1 superiority in ships and planes is supposedly not enough...then just get rid of the conventional forces altogether and just nuke everyone. If you can't do it with that than just give up right now.

Sorry I'm not buying these arguments. If you're sending in Marines in a situation where you're facing the entirety of the Chinese military then I would assume you're sending in the USN as well. What would the USN be doing if not doing just that?

Chinese put up a single SAM site on a coral reef and suddenly our Navy is useless?
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 12:24

steve2267 wrote:Perhaps the better question is, will the SHornets be effective at all in the face of S-300 / S-400 IADS and, in the case of the South China Sea, lots of PLAAF fighters?


The question is how long would isolated dispersed single S-300 sites on coral reefs survive against cruise missile strikes, rather than how will SH survive. In my opinion.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 13:42

You mean that S-300 battery atop an artificial reef vulnerable to slipping down on to the continental shelf if it was undermined by torpedoes?
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 13:47

Corsair1963 wrote:Sorry, land based aircraft are often to far away to offer timely support. If, that was the case we wouldn't need aircraft carriers in the first place.


And that is why the big flattops exist. Making them smaller doesn't really help. Go big or don't waste the money.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 15:22

tincansailor wrote:The marines my fear a repeat of Guadalcanal, where the navy left them exposed to enemy naval, and air attack for long periods of time, but the navy fears being trapped in a shooting gallery like Okinawa.


tincansailor wrote:No large scale amphibious operation would ever be even contemplated without first establishing naval and air superiority. Taking out an IADS, major air forces, or even the threat of ASCMs would be prerequisites to a major operation. I would add almost any conceivable amphibious operation would be a combined services operation. The navy will have F-35Cs, but they will also have F-35A, and B assets, along with other aircraft in an air task force controlled by a joint service commander.

The idea that the marines need to have forces to conduct operations separate from the navy, and the other services are unrealistic. The creation of the defense department was done to make coordination between the services work better then it did in WWII. Please paint a scenario in the modern world were the marines have to operate without land based air support, or a CBG. I just don't see it happening.


As to a scenario? A diversionary strike or strike where the big flattops are elsewhere, so the enema would not suspect an ASG (AAG?) to conduct an operation? Somewhere in Africa a country goes tango uniform and the President orders the Marines in post haste (for whatever reason) -- perhaps to evacuate an embassy or defend critical US interests.

On the one hand, I tend to agree with "any conceivable amphibious operation would be a combined services operation," but it would seem one could come up with scenarios where an ASG might have to act alone. Granted, probably not against major state actors.

Everyone is making valid points. But I have two thoughts running around my head:
  1. Does an LHA or LHD carry enough tactical, fixed wing aircraft?
  2. What does the SHornet do, that the F-35C can't do better?

I keep thinking that six fixed wing, tactical aircraft are not enough to properly support a Marine ground element. A minimum of twelve, or better yet, a full squadron of twenty-four aircraft would seem to be in order to provide a minimum of support to a battalion, and a wing (72 aircraft) for a regiment. Granted, I am talking off the top of my head here, pulling numbers out of the air that feel right. But when you start thinking about providing air cover 24x7, six aircraft on an LHA don't seem to be enough.

Six aircraft would seem to address the Marine Guadacanal syndrome, but not enough for independent sustained combat ops. Maybe enough for an embassy evacuation, or if a full CSG arrives within 24 hours.

If six aircraft on an LHA aren't enough to independently defend Henderson Field, then perhaps it's better use of that America-class carrier to only carry helos and tilt rotors.

If six F-35B's are a start and a good force, then why not twelve? Twelve F-35B's could kick some real a$$. But if twelve, why not 20 or 24? Now you're talking. You could probably do that on an LHA, but forget your people movers, and you need to your ground pounders somewhere else. If 24, why not 40-48, max. 40-48 F-35Bs on a new class of ship... Wow. That is serious ground support. Where do you draw the line? So point #1 above comes down to force structure: how many fixed wing tactical aviation assets to support the ground troops, and where do you base them? People more qualified than I, I am sure, are addressing this question. So it may be fun to debate on a mental what-if basis, but probably not much more.

So I come to point #2: why keep buying the SHornet if the F-35C is so much better? What can the SHornet do, that the F-35C will not be able to do better? Are there any show stoppers potentially on the horizon with the F-35C? Perhaps if the F-35A and F-35B were not already flying, were not already IOC, it would make sense to keep the F/A-18E/F production line still warm if the F-35C were just entering testing. But if the -A and -B variants have pretty well "wrung out" the system, and we've already conducted DT-I, DT-II, and DT-III with the -C variant... why keep buying SHornets that will be delivered in a few years, which would be the same time that you could be taking delivery of F-35Cs?
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post25 Jan 2017, 17:27

Pondering my last paragraph some more, I can only come up with these reasons for the Navy continuing to purchase SHornets rather than putting all their TacAir money into F-35Cs:
  1. Cost per airframe is significantly lower -- more airframes for their dollars.
  2. Two engines -- a safety argument.
  3. Tanker support -- the F/A-18E/F can tank future F-35Cs.
  4. Keep production line warm - hedging bets on F-35C.
There are counter-arguments to each of these points, but they are the only ones I can think of as to why the Navy should keep purchasing SHornets.

With regard to #3, I would argue money spent on SHornets for tanker use would be better spent on the UCAS the Navy has said it wants. An all F-35C + RQ-25 force where the UCAAS could tank the F-35Cs and act as an AIM-120 missile truck for the F-35Cs, stand-off bomb/missile truck with JDAM / JSOW / JAASM / JSM would make a lot of sense. Heck, you could probably even adapt such an aircraft to drop sonobuoys and Mark 46/50 torpedos and get some of the S3 Viking capability back. I thought a scaled up X-47B would do well at many of these tasks.
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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