Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Eventually the Stealth Planes Add Up

The Navy has sent the amphibious warfare ship Wasp with F-35Bs to the western Pacific:

The US military boosted its stealth attack options in the Pacific on Saturday when the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp moved into the 7th Fleet area of operations.

The 40,00-ton, 844-foot-long Wasp is essentially a baby aircraft carrier. Built in 1980s, it has been upgraded to deploy new Marine Corps F-35B stealth fighter jets.

While a baby aircraft carrier not really designed to be a strike carrier, Wasp has the advantage of carrying stealth planes that have not yet been deployed on our big carriers that are designed to carry more planes and are optimized for strike missions.

And while the article notes that the vertical takeoff models the Marine amphibs use have half the payload in that mode, these planes could be used from land and so have a full payload and range. I don't think the B model is capable of carrier launch, however. I've noted that Marines are buying some of the C model.

With F-35As in Japan and more F-22s and some B-2s available, too, the Air Force can bring a number of stealth planes to the fight. While the Navy doesn't seem to have their F-35Cs operating from carriers yet (but they might have limited availability for this important mission) the Marine F-35B model is now in the region adding to the total.

And I wonder if the British could have deployed a few B models with the Marines.

We need every stealth plane we can get to be the invisible tip of the spear if we strike North Korea.