The USS America leads the next generation of amphibious warfare, equipped with as many as 13 F-35s.
On January 14, at the 32nd Annual Surface Navy Association Symposium, Vice Adm. Rich Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces, explained that “amphibs” — that is, amphibious warfare watercraft — could offer smaller, shorter-range fighters a platform for more effective “power projection.”
“A big deck with that many F-35s is beginning to look like an aircraft carrier to me,” he noted. And that could be a vital development: Modern enemies of the United States have better sensors supporting weapons with longer ranges, and more sophisticated targeting tech. Smaller, faster, more tactically agile craft could be vital to effective military action on the battlefields of the future.
The fifth-generation fighters are already employed by the Marine Corps Air Ground Task Forces aboard the USS America, USS Wasp, and USS Essex. These “F-35B” models could easily launch strikes, or provide air support to live operations. Perhaps most notably, however, are their peerless scouting abilities.
The F-35 sports a “distributed aperture system” equipped with cameras on all sides, as well as an advanced “Electro-Optical Targeting System” (EOTS). “Sensor fusion” technology combines all of the information gathered by these systems and translates it into a sophisticated visual display for the pilot.
War exists in a constant state of evolution; and as it has almost since its inception, U.S. warriors lead the bleeding edge.