We went aboard USS America during USMC F-35B Proof Of Concept Sea Trials

Nov 25 2016 - 38 Comments
By Todd Miller

We Visited the USS America with 12 F-35Bs on Board!

The rumble of the MV-22B reverberated off the flight deck of the USS America (LHA-6).

The 12 F-35Bs onboard represented more F-35s than had ever gathered at sea. The F-35B moving steadily towards deployment represents an unprecedented leap in capability, the future of formidable maritime power.

The USS America (LHA-6) cruises off the coast of S. Cal with 10 USMC F-35Bs topside (2 more below) from VMFA-211 & VMX-1, as well as a UH-1Y, AH-1Z, & SH-60. Taken during the "Proof of Concept" demonstration Nov. 19, 2016.

The USS America (LHA-6) cruises off the coast of S. Cal with 10 USMC F-35Bs topside (2 more below) from VMFA-211 & VMX-1, as well as a UH-1Y, AH-1Z, & SH-60. Taken during the “Proof of Concept” demonstration Nov. 19, 2016.

The gathering of assets was part of a joint US Navy (USN)/ US Marine Corps (USMC) “Proof of Concept” demonstration held off the coast of Southern California Nov. 18-20.

F-35Bs from USMC VMFA-211 & VMX-1 on the deck of the USS America (LHA-6) during Carrier capability proof of concept demonstration November 19, 2016.

F-35Bs from USMC VMFA-211 & VMX-1 on the deck of the USS America (LHA-6) during Carrier capability proof of concept demonstration November 19, 2016.

PAO Capt. Sarah Burns indicated that the demonstration would explore the best way to integrate a large package of F-35Bs into the current USN/USMC structure to bring the most effective power projection from the sea.

Lt. General Jon M. Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation shared a core value of the Marine Corps demonstrated onboard, “No Marine Corps platform fights alone.” The F-35B, MV-22B, AH-1Z and UH-1Y combined and integrated with the US Navy’s latest amphibious assault ship (USS America) complete a package that provides the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with a broad spectrum of response options, and the most advanced mobile warfighting capability.

F-35Bs from USMC VMFA-211 & VMX-1 on the deck of the USS America (LHA-6) during Carrier capability proof of concept demonstration November 19, 2016.

F-35Bs from USMC VMFA-211 & VMX-1 on the deck of the USS America (LHA-6) during Carrier capability proof of concept demonstration November 19, 2016.

The MV-22B Ospreys speed and range have been a game changer for the USMC MAGTF, and now with the F-35B on hand the operational possibilities take yet another quantum leap. The sea based capability provides global mobility unrestrained by availability of land bases. This integrated USN/USMC capability is ideal for the fight against terrorism, and/or the insertion of Marine infantryman or special forces deep in hostile territory.

USMC F-35B of VMFA-211 (squadron jet) in transport on the USS America (LHA-6) during the integrated USN & USMC 'proof of concept" demonstration November 19, 2016.

USMC F-35B of VMFA-211 (squadron jet) in transport on the USS America (LHA-6) during the integrated USN & USMC ‘proof of concept” demonstration November 19, 2016.

The access is increased even more given the platforms ability to quickly relocate to austere forward operating bases. Given the F-35Bs stealth, advanced sensors, situational awareness and weapons, it also provides the capability to operate in proximity of areas hosting Integrated Air Defense Systems (IADS) or Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) environments.

F-35B from VMFA-211 taxis to take off postion on the deck of the USS America (LHA-16 during proof of concept demonstration November19. The American Flag graphic on the America's "Conning Tower" is reflected in the F-35Bs canopy.

F-35B from VMFA-211 taxis to take off position on the deck of the USS America (LHA-16 during proof of concept demonstration November19. The American Flag graphic on the America’s “Conning Tower” is reflected in the F-35Bs canopy.

The demonstrated integration of the F-35 and the US Navy’s AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System adds tremendous potency to an already capable system. The F-35 can provide over the horizon targeting data to a readily available USN AEGIS platform that can quickly intercept ballistic missile, drone, or hostile aircraft with its SM-6 missile (widely believed to have a range beyond 200 mile). This allows stealth detection of targets by the F-35, and a virtually unlimited (boatload) of missiles to utilize.

F-35B of USMC VMFA-211 hovers aside the USS America as it prepares for a vertical landing on deck during the integrated USN/USMC proof of concept demonstration November 19, 2016.

F-35B of USMC VMFA-211 hovers aside the USS America as it prepares for a vertical landing on deck during the integrated USN/USMC proof of concept demonstration November 19, 2016.

The F-35B replaces three Marine Corps aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet, the EA-6B Prowler, and the AV-8B Harrier II. Not only does it do the job of each aircraft better, it adds Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) and Command & Control (C2) capability. The F-35B fulfills the USMC vision of “every Marine Corps aircraft a sensor, a shooter and a sharer.”

USMC F-35B of VMFA-211 launches off the USS America (LHA-6) during USMC proof of concept capabiliity demonstration November 19, 2016.

USMC F-35B of VMFA-211 launches off the USS America (LHA-6) during USMC proof of concept capabiliity demonstration November 19, 2016.

Once onboard the USS America the rumbling of the Osprey was quickly replaced by the near continuous roar of F-35Bs launching and landing. The tempo of operations demonstrated the F-35Bs readiness for deployment and combat activity. That should come as no surprise given the “B” has over 22,000 combined flight hours.

The F-35B advanced flight systems reduce pilot workload and increase safety in all aspects of flight. USMC pilot Lt. Col. Rich “VC” Rusnok an experienced AV-8B Harrier II pilot and slated to become the Commanding Officer (CO) of VFMA-121 in 2017 noted that, “hovering in the Harrier was like sitting on a one-legged bar stool.” His comment was complemented by USMC pilot Lt. Col. John “Guts” Price (slated to become the CO of VFMA-122 in 2018). Price noted that his first hover in a F-35B found him realize his learned instincts in the Harrier to provide inputs created problems in the hover, and it was better to ease off the controls and let the F-35B do as it wanted! Perhaps nowhere is this ease of flying more evident than in the speed of pilots Carrier Qualifications (CQs); in the previous 4 years only 8 USMC F-35B pilots had CQ’d, in the past 3 weeks 19 pilots CQ’d!

F-35B of USMC VMFA-211 perfroms vertical landing on the USS America (LHA-6) during integrated USN/USMC "proof of concept" exercise November 19, 2016.

F-35B of USMC VMFA-211 perfroms vertical landing on the USS America (LHA-6) during integrated USN/USMC “proof of concept” exercise November 19, 2016.

The Marine Corps lead the way with the F-35 program. The deployment of VMFA-121 the “Green Knights” to Japan is motion to take place in January 2017, with further deployments slated for 2018. It all speaks to the ongoing progress and maturity of the F-35 program. This “aerial amphibious assault force” represents a new era of flexibility and capability for the MAGTF, and I anticipate we’ll regularly see the USS America serving the nations interests in strategic locations around the globe.

USMC F-35B of VMFA-211 starts its take off run on the USS America (LHA-6) during USMC proof of concept capabiliity demonstration.

USMC F-35B of VMFA-211 starts its take off run on the USS America (LHA-6) during USMC proof of concept capabiliity demonstration.

The Aviationist thanks Sylvia Pierson, and Brandi Schiff, JSF/JPO PA; Capt. Sarah Burns & 1st Lt. Maida Zheng, USMC PAOs; Captain Joseph R. Olson, Commanding Officer of the USS America and entire crew; Lt. General Jon M. Davis, USMC Deputy Commandant for Aviation; Supporting F-35B pilots of VMFA-211 & the F-35B and MV-22B pilots and personnel of VMX-1.

 

Salva

  • leroy

    The world of combat aviation now belongs to the U.S. and our allies who will acquire the F-35. U.S. 5th gen truly owns the skies, and the Russians and Chinese have nothing like it. Nothing that can compete with F-22 and F-35. The arrogant and ignorant will deny this, but the fact has not been lost on China and Russia. They fully understand what it is that they have lost. But they continue to run an aggressive Internet disinformation campaign against this fighter. Trying their best to manipulate Western public opinion against it. They have failed, some of you have failed, and this fighter will now dominate the air battlespace. That’s just the way it is, and the free world can rightfully celebrate.

    • jokuvaan

      The ones celebrating are Boeing, Saab and Dassault.

      • leroy

        If they got any sub-contracts, I’m sure they are.

    • franciwzm

      anyway meteor integration on f35 gonna be crucial in air to air, and AESA captor on typhoon gonna be able to detect f35 and f22 in very useful bvr range.

      • WHOHE

        Lol. Just made that up, huh? AESA F-15E’s couldn’t detect F-35A’s in a recent combat exercise, franky. Result was those F-15’s losing to the F-35’s. Aint no Typhoon AESA going to detect any F-35’s in the BVR realm. Wishful thinking on your part.

        • leroy

          Bingo! I couldn’t have said it better.

        • leroy

          More proof of the absolute lies about F-35 that posters like Franci put on the Internet. He has no idea what he’s talking about, but an ignorant public will believe him. Certainly people who hate America will, but we know all they are is jealous. Most of them come from countries that couldn’t even make a decent bicycle much less a complex fighter aircraft.

        • franciwzm

          Whow! Such ignorant? Typhoon captor ihas better detection range then f15 or f35 aesa! And it is a mechanical radar ! New AESA grant 50-75 per cent better detection range! Bith ukand Italy have both typhoon and F35, and new AESA (based on old captor ) cannot officialy detect F35 any shorter then 80km, for pure phisc laws, that means gonna detect f35 and f22 at much longer distances (Old captor was able to detect f22 any shorter then 40km ,up to 80)…Obviosuly that 80km is a theoritcal distance for a 100% allineation, that means much more in real scenario…I repeat: this are offical specs and both uk and italy have both typhonn and F35…Lol…Get some more study dude…

        • franciwzm

          Current typhoon captor has more detection range vs standard target then f15 or f35 AESA; it was able to constantcly detect f22 40km away 10 years ago at langley; uk and Italy have both f35 an typhoon, and new typhoon AESA officialy can detect F35 not less then 72km in idela conditon (100% allineation): that translates in much longer distances…(40km distance for detecting f22 translates in real worl rcs of f22 of 0,018, which is very good, but very distant from 0,00001 specs…)…You should know that current mechanicla captor detectioo ranges are significantly better then f15 o f35 aesa and that new aesa should grant lonegr detection ranges vs standard targets even of f22 aesa…(not mentioning 220 degrees radius)..I repeat Offical BAE statement is that E-caesar gonna detect F35 not less then 72km …

      • Uniform223

        Right there was enough hot air to fill a balloon capable of lifting up to 800lbs.

      • Corporate Kitten

        How are they going to do that?

        Existing AESAs struggle, what is special about Captor?

      • Phil Verhey

        the radome on the typhoon as far smaller than the F-15’s … not only will the array be smaller and have less available power … it will also NOT be able to target an F-35 in BVR.
        As the AESA equipped F-15E couldn’t in full ship formation, and the F-15C couldn’t (in a pair of full ship formation.. aka: EIGHT vs ONE) target the older, larger and more visible F-22A.
        .. you’re either talking as a victim of misinformation, or willfully creating it out your ass … I wonder which?

    • Holztransistor

      “Free world”. Good joke. Even Jimmy Carter said that the US has become an oligarchy. How many people need food stamps in that country? Almost 47 million. The country is rich and yet, many people are poor. Since WW2 ended, America’s wars are nothing to be proud of anymore. It’s just about who gets what.

      https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/jimmy-carter-u-s-oligarchy-unlimited-political-bribery/

      They are the ones who are celebrating.

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/18/richest-62-billionaires-wealthy-half-world-population-combined

    • Uniform223

      Normally I agree with you but recently some of your comments/opinions are starting to look like a western version of a Kremlin controlled troll…

      • Holztransistor

        Well, almost 6000 posts in little over a year and most on theaviationist look like the one above. You have to wonder if he’s doing anything else.

  • leroy

    Let the Kuznetsov belch its way straight into the scrapyard and dustbin of history. Soon these magnificent fighters will grace not only American L-class ships, real combat ships, but also another real carrier – the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth.The Royal Navy is eagerly awaiting F-35B’s arrival. Ownership of the seas will remain firmly entrenched with the West. The rest of you? Just sit back accept it. There’s nothing in the world you can do. Nothing.

    • Andrew Winnicki

      what about the Chinese DF-21D aka “Carrier Killer” missiles?

      • leroy

        What about them? They can be intercepted by SM missiles, their targeting interrupted, their terminal guidance systems disrupted by countermeasure. A number of methods can be applied to take out a link in their kill chain. Any one link terminated is enough to cause this missile to go off course and fall helplessly into the sea. Trying to hit a CVN in the vast ocean is like trying to hit a moving ant on a football field with a wobbly dart. Of course F-35C might hit them before they even launch. DF-21X can be dealt with in a variety of ways by a very mobile, extremely elusive U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier. How mobile? That’s none of your business!

      • Hein S

        DF-21D are great….in theory.

      • Phil Verhey

        can’t hit, what they can’t find.
        at 40knots a CVN CSG is long gone from it’s observed position on firing, any long range missile requires persistent and accurate ISR … that can survive the escorting ships and it’s air assets detecting in all 4 layers of the battlespace.
        and that’s impossible.
        why?
        even if the Chinese flooded the sky with unmanned drones, a number so large that they’d overwhelm the CSG missile count, they’d run out of channels to communicate the whereabouts of the CVN inside the CSG (which would still be dynamic under the countermeasure decoys of all the ships, the movement of the ship and the speed of the ship), the jam range would be well within the capability of the CSG, especially with the physic disruption of having a channel set so flooded with overlapping Doppler comms.
        and if they went with their advertised dual fuselage boom CSG detection aircraft, the CSG has a high-count of high-altitude standard missiles and SPY radars well capable of detecting it as it breaches the curvature of the earth,, along with the F-35 and AEW&C E-2 hawkeyes’ high-fidelity radars, which can/have successfully spotted for AEGIS’ standard missile 6’s miles and miles outside the regular ship engagement envelope.

        .. if the “carrier killer” is going to rely on air assets for ISR to target the carrier, it will fail far outside the range of CVN tracking.

        and if the Chinese wants to use a subsurface asset .. it must contend with all of the anti submarine sonars, the helo buoys, the Virginia or worse [for it] Seawolf class submarine(s) below the carrier and land based long range patrol aircraft and passive sensors that can see the sub on arrival/approach.

        and they can’t use surface assets, the earth isn’t flat… the CVN is inside the CSG, best they could do is target a destroyer… which is equipped to be shot at on purpose… and kill what shot at it.

        • pappagone

          nothing is perfect. also argentinian was lethal with uk great power in malvinas war. english victory wasn’t even victims and damages. the war was very expensive in all of the means. all the countries that goes into the war perhaps in another time they think that no war will be better!!!!!
          if will be a war in the sea anyone win even take damages, and at certain levels damages will be very heavy and hard to sustain. and . . . . . who lost in these wars? poor men, their families. Who decide wars, these people, will remain very far from battle asking sacrifice and giving medals to very poor patriot which only can die killing other men (patriot also) which also take medals. . . . . .
          guys!!!, please speak of war in every hour of the day, but also you, often, remain far from the battle. have you ever read about war? have you ever hear what succeed if you are in a city under a strategic bombing? all people (all civilians) die, in Dresden, in Berlin, in Baghdad, in Beograd, in Hiroshima & Nagasaki your great bosses (war criminal as or worse than Hitler and Stalin) killed millions of kids, women, old men, also a lot of prisoneer, but not so much enemies.

          what is the great fun in talking about missiles!!, perhaps if Hitler had chance to bombing newyork, you can change your minds?
          or,
          if you fathers, or you, have possibility to see enemy in your country telling of democracy and bombing civilians, what do you do? what do you think?
          so, america gone in all around the world bringing death, and you what do you think? what is this for you ? I can tell you what is this.
          This is crime, terror, this is the true terroristic way to the next WW
          when earth, air and sea are full of hundreds of missiles, perhaps you can understand what sea power can do. NOTHING!!

          • leroy

            I agree war is horrible, that is why Argentina shouldn’t have started one with the UK.

            Ask anyone in the world if they’d want to be a part of the UK, or part of Argentina. Like the people of the Falklands voted, most would say UK.

            Argentina is a very dysfunctional, poor nation. It’s all screwed up! One look at the slums surrounding Buenos Aires is proof of that. Who would want to join a nation that produces conditions like that?

    • Arthur Vallejo

      Leroy, well said, patriot.

  • mrsatyre
  • Uncle Mike

    Nice job on the article. Great pictures.

  • sferrin

    In before somebody asks, “can these replace CVNs?” No, they can’t.

    • Arthur Vallejo

      But when added to the strength of the CVN battle groups they will give America’s adversaries nightmares and headaches.

  • Mongee Phase

    No catapult!!! But that what made it ceewl. On another note, maybe a cable/winch system can make it land faster on hover mode.

    • Phil Verhey

      I don’t think you are familiar with the gator fleet or the realities of STOVL

    • Are you suggesting a F-35 drop a line like a vessel coming alongside? Sounds perilous imho, a $1XX million dollar jet with a line that could snag on something, I’m just not sure about that.

  • ArmChairGeneral

    Great photos. The f-35 will certainly be a game changer.

  • Arthur Vallejo

    They did not mention the best thing about F-35B. It can carry two B-61 mod. 12 thermonuclear bombs (300 kt. each) from L class carriers or Austere bases on deep interdiction missions in full stealth mode and deliver them with laser guided precision. This is one of many reasons why no nation would ever want to fight an all-out war with the USA.

    • Holztransistor

      The B61-12 is a dangerous step towards nuclear war. The lowest yield rates might mislead military commanders to think this weapon can be used without consequences. But if the opponent also has nuclear weapons, then this can get out of control very fast. I really hope nobody is stupid enough to think a nuclear war could be “won”.

      http://www.nucleardarkness.org/warconsequences/fivemilliontonsofsmoke/

      Even a relatively confined nuclear war would be a disaster for all of humankind. The climate change would lead to famine of catastrophic proportions. I can only shake my head if anyone is cheering about such weapons.

  • Uniform223

    Let the FACTS speak for themselves. Only the simple minded and ignorant are sucked in by propaganda. It is not our job or responsibility to change their minds. If they can’t accept what is happening in front of them, that is on them. If they want to stay ignorant and look foolish, that’s on them. It’s good that you want to push back against such forms of disinformation but you don’t have to be over zealot about it.

  • Uniform223

    Your crap over at F-16.net didn’t fly there and it’s not going to fly no matter how much effort you put into it.

    Here is something to think about.

    IF (and I do mean “if” as in a hypothetical situation where everything works out in just the right way…) can detect a STEALTHY F-22 or F-35 at your claimed 72km, how much further away could the F-22 or F-35 detect a NON-STEALTHY Typhoon?
    Also what about the comments F-35 pilots made about their experience at Mountain Home? Something about how they had to INTENTIONALLY make their presence known just so that the defending SAM units (which were the latest Patriot variants if I remember correctly) had Something to defend against. Those platforms have larger and more powerful radars and they still couldn’t detect the F-35 at meaningful ranges. The F-35s still has ZERO simulated combat loses against those and Strike Eagles with the AN/APG-82 AESA radar. After that they went to Volks Air Field for Northern Lightning and OpFor had similar experiences.

    I’m not saying that the Typhoon isn’t a good aircraft but your claims seem high dubious and seem like they came from a really crappy website owned and operated by a self titled “expert”.

  • Uniform223

    Also both RAF and Italian AF officials have been saying their F-35s will become the “tip of the spear”. As good as the Typhoon is it will never be able to get as far or as close as the F-35 and F-22.

  • Pilot96

    I agree, even though I’m not from Australia or Canada. I’m actually from the US, but living in Berlin, Germany. Don’t feel bad though, we were told we’d have a new airport by 2010, and it still isn’t done. :p

  • leroy

    “I am very sure that also in London, and NY or LosAngelese there are same poor conditions.”

    Nothing like outside of Buenos Aires, and nothing like the primitive living conditions found throughout most of Argentina.

    “if the large part of people think of Usa fight for freedom or democracy, these people can be put in mental hospital.”

    Typical of the communist thinking that pervades South America, and one of the reasons the entire continent remains undeveloped. The U.S. is swamped with economic refugees from South and Central America yearning for a chance at prosperity for themselves and their children. You probably think Che and Fidel were great heroes of the people. You can’t see them for the psychopathic murderers they were. And look at what Chavez did to Venezuela. Argentina a great nation? Not in your lifetime. It’s because of the thinking of leftists like you.

    Let Argentina take control of the Falklands? If I lived there I’d say NO WAY! All you’d do is ruin it. And look at your military. You can’t even afford used old fighters. You would be destroyed again if you ever pulled another foolish move like you did when you invaded the Falklands. I have no anger towards your nation, I am just being realistic. If your entire country was owned by the British you’d be a world economic and military power. But under your corrupt leaders and people’s misguided ways of economically and politically thinking? Never!