US Navy upgrades for F-35 future of carriers remains in flux

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Unread post02 Jun 2020, 22:11

US Navy upgrades more ships for the F-35 as the future of carriers remains in flux
01 Jun 2020 David B. Larter

"WASHINGTON — Former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly hadn’t been out of the job more than a month before the Navy canceled an ongoing study he’d launched into the future of aircraft carriers — a review he optimistically termed “Future Carrier 2030.” Modly and his predecessor, Richard Spencer, had been excited by the prospect of fielding smaller, more risk-worthy carriers that could reduce the chance of China or Russia landing a major punch in a conflict simply by sinking or disabling a single ship, such as a Nimitz- or Ford-class aircraft carrier with thousands of sailors and tens of billions of dollars of hardware aboard.

But very soon after Modly’s spectacular departure, former acting Secretary James McPherson canceled the study until further notice. Still, as the effort to move to a smaller carrier seems frozen — as it has been for decades every time someone suggested it — the Navy is forging ahead with preparing its big-deck boats — the amphibious assault ships — for operating with the Marine Corp’s F-35B. The Corps’ F-35 fighter jet is a short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant.

The Navy recently inked a $200 million contract with BAE Systems to upgrade the amphibious assault ship Boxer to be able to operate with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the fifth landing helicopter assault ship to be so amended. “The USS Boxer [dry-dock availability] will complete a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair of the following systems: Hull structure, propulsion, electrical plant, auxiliary systems, and communications and combat systems, as well as alterations to prepare the ship for operations with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF),” according to a statement from Naval Sea Systems command.... [then the 'LIGHTNING CARRIER CONCEPT']

...The Boxer, which is an older class of big-deck amphib, could likely pack about 15 F-35Bs if it were dedicated for the purpose, according to Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The idea of a lighter [or LIGHTNING?] carrier is also one that has intrigued Defense Secretary Mark Esper....

...‘What’s the objective?’
The Navy has shied away from lighter carriers for decades because, as expensive as the carriers are, they generate more sorties for less money than it would cost a comparable number of smaller carriers to generate....

...The first step for the Navy is to figure out what it wants to achieve when it comes to countering China, he said. “My strong opinion [is] that the issue is compounded by the lack of a strategic concept,” Cropsey said. “What’s the plan? What’s the objective? Once the Navy is able to articulate that, questions such as the ones being asked about [smaller carriers] will resolve themselves much more easily.”"

Source: https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2020/ ... s-in-flux/
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