3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Demonstrate Lightning Carrier Concept > United States Marine Corps Flagship > News Display

The Navy and Marine Corps demonstrated a key capability when they operated 20 F-35B Lightning II jet aircraft from the U.S.-class amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli from March 30 to April 8, fully exercising the concept Marine Corps “lightning carrier” for the first time in naval history on an amphibious assault ship.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David H. Berger, discussed the potential of the amphibious assault ship-based “lightning carrier” concept in his planning advice. “Lightning” is derived from the predominance of F-35B Lightning II aircraft on board.
The demonstration included 16 jets from Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, with four more from Marine

Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, all operating from USS Tripoli at high tempo. The Navy and Marine Corps team has progressively developed the Lightning carrier concept and continues to refine its tactics, techniques and procedures to support integrated naval operations.

“When this opportunity presented itself to put so many of our fifth generation aircraft on board Tripoli in conjunction with operational testing, we were thrilled.” United States Marine Corps Colonel Chad Vaughn, commanding officer of MAG-13

“It has been an incredible opportunity to train to fight as MAG from the sea, train our pilots and work alongside our Navy teammates,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Chad Vaughn, commander of MAG-13.

The demonstration proved that an assault carrier can be a deadly addition and gives combatant commanders more options when used creatively. An earlier concept used amphibious assault ships to demonstrate the “Carrier Harrier” concept for AV-8B Harriers.

This concept will not change the standard composition of an Amphibious Ready Group and a Maritime Expeditionary Unit. However, the exercise demonstrated the potential of using amphibious assault ships to provide naval and joint force with lethal access, collection and strike capabilities from short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft from fifth generation in future operations.

“This demonstration proved the versatility of the America-class assault carrier, with its ability to carry either two squadrons of F-35Bs and a MAG command element, or a battalion-sized landing force and the associated assault support. [12 MV-22B Ospreys, four CH-53E Super Stallions, and six F-35B Lightning II]said US Navy Captain Joel Lang, commanding officer of Tripoli. “For the fleet commander, both options are formidable and durable.”


flight deck
Photo by seaman Maci Sternod

Tripoli, an amphibious assault ship, is the second US-class Landing Helicopter Assault Ship (LHA). Optimized to support both rotary and fixed-wing operations, Tripoli carries twice as much aviation fuel, 30% more aviation ammunition and, with an enlarged hangar bay, more space to perform maintenance aircraft than its Wasp-class predecessors.

“The fifth-generation capability of the F-35B brings a significant advancement in capability to combatant commanders, not only as a lethal attack aircraft, but with the wide array of sensors provided with the F-35B avionics suite. “said US Marine. Lt. Col. Alexander Goodno, commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225. “Having two full squadrons of F-35Bs on a ship like the USS Tripoli capitalizes on this next-generation capability, giving the commander a wealth of options.”

As one of the Marine Corps’ newest F-35 squadrons, the demonstration allowed VMFA-225 to operate at sea for the first time as a squadron.

“The pilots and Marines in my squadron were really looking forward to gaining experience at sea, testing this new capability, and working alongside an experienced squadron like VMFA-211 and the crew of USS TRIPOLI,” Goodno added. “I am exceptionally proud of the performance of the Marines of VMFA-225 during our first period at sea. It was an exciting concept and we all believe it should be considered more of an option for our forces in the future. “

The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and deadly when called into action. As an integral part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. 3rd Fleet operates naval forces in the Indo-Pacific in addition to providing the realistic and relevant training needed to perfectly execute the timeless roles of sea control and projection. power of our navy. Third Fleet works in close coordination with other numbered fleets to provide commanders with forces capable and ready to deploy forward and win in daily competition, crisis and conflict.

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