Goodbye ‘Harrier Carrier, welcome to ‘Lightning Carriers’ (CV-Ls)
Tyler Rogoway has an interesting write up on the USMC/USN’s take on using Marine F-35s on the new class of 40,000-ton LHAs, which are basically the same size as WWII fleet carriers.
Under the “lightning carrier” plan, 40 sorties can be fielded in a 14-hour period with 16 F-35Bs from the deck of one of these ersatz flattops, which is arguably more than just about any other carrier afloat not already in U.S. service. Plus, things really get interesting if you add an F-35 tasked LHA to an existing amphibious strike group, bringing both a full Marine expeditionary unit coupled with a baby carrier to the littoral.
Some concepts exist where a pair of amphibious assault ships work together within a single, albeit larger, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). One carrying a couple dozen F-35Bs and the other carrying a few dozen helicopters. Such a concept would allow for a continuous F-35B presence over the battlefield, and would even allow for the ESG to mount fixed wing “alpha strikes,” where the majority of the F-35B force prosecutes a set of strategic enemy targets during a single mission, much like a Navy carrier air wing currently is capable of.