Home » Aviation » Marines Deploy First F-35Bs to the Middle East; 13th MEU, Essex ARG Test Battle Readiness


Marines Deploy First F-35Bs to the Middle East; 13th MEU, Essex ARG Test Battle Readiness

An F-35B Lightning II, attached to the Wake Island Avengers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, launches from the flight deck of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2)on Aug. 30, 2018. US Navy Photo

Marines training on the ground on the Horn of Africa will see a new set of wings pulling the classic close air support mission: The F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The F-35Bs are assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 “Wake Island Avengers” and part of the air combat element deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 13th MEU and San Diego, Calif.-based Essex Amphibious Ready Group has arrived U.S. 5th Fleet and launched F-35Bs from the deck of amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2).

“We will exercise all of the capability of the aircraft without prioritizing a specific one. It will all pertain to supporting the Marine on the ground,” Col. Chandler Nelms, who commands the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 13th MEU, told USNI News by phone from Essex on Saturday as the ship was operating off Djibouti. “We have the opportunity to run through the full gamut of our capabilities while we are here.”

For two weeks, the F-35B and the rest of the 13th MEU’s combat firepower will train at military ranges in Djibouti and in the international waters off the coast. About 4,500 Marines and sailors with the 13th MEU and Essex ARG – Essex, amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD-47) – are participating in the TACR exercise, which kicked off Saturday, for Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Marines assigned to Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct maintenance on their amphibious assault vehicles while participating in Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal (TACR) 18 on Sept. 8, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

“This is about continuous readiness. We put a lot of effort into training on the West Coast before we deployed. We trained to a pretty high level of readiness when we left. Those skills kind of atrophy very quickly if you don’t practice,” Capt. Gerald Olin, Amphibious Squadron 1 commander and Essex ARG/MEU commodore, told USNI News.

The F-35B, equipped with arrays of high-tech radars, sensors and computers, is designed for designed for short takeoffs and vertical landings and will replace the Marine Corps’ fleet of aging the AV-8B Harrier attack aircraft. The addition of the F-35 to the ARG, Olin said, “is a very significant enabler for me and for my team. It increases battlespace awareness with data fusion and the ability to share information with the ships and the ships’ combat control system. So it’s really an extension of our sensors, and it also brings to the table a greater increased lethality than what we had with previous generation aircraft.

“It’s really a game-changer for us, and we are really excited to be a part of bringing this new tool to the ARG and learning how to use it. I don’t think we really know exactly… we’re kind of at the leading edge of discovering that,” Olin said.

Nelms said the F-35B would expand their combat capabilities as an integrated, blue-green team. “That’s what makes us a powerful crisis-response force while we’re out here,” he said. “I think our commanders know that they will leverage any weapons system that we get a hold of, and the F-35 is no different. We’re just looking forward to demonstrate what we can do and being available as the crisis-response force.”

Within a week of leaving San Diego Naval Base for the scheduled deployment to the Pacific and Middle East, the Essex ARG/13th MEU stopped in Hawaii for a few days of sustainment training. Then it was on to the Western Pacific, where elements of the MEU joined in theater security cooperation (TSC) exercises with Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka military forces. “It was a great opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities and to partner up with our allies in the region,” Nelms said.

F-35B Lightning IIs with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fly over the Pacific Ocean during a regularly scheduled deployment of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the 13th MEU on Aug. 1, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

“Now that we are in 5th Fleet, our primary mission is crisis response… being current and absolutely ready for anything the geographic combatant commander needs us to do while we are here,” he said. That means running through our rehearsals for TRAP (tactical recovery of aircraft or personnel), quick reaction force (QRF) employment and CASEVAC (casualty evacuation), “and we are basically training for across the range of military operations.”

“We’re the on-call for anything, from small-scale simply sending in a quick-reaction force to major combat operations where we’d commit the entire capability of the MAGTF, the MEU,” he added. Most of the force, including Battalion Landing Team 3rdBattalion, 1st Marines, offloaded from the three ships to Djibouti’s ranges. The MEU will test all its warfighting functions, including command-and-control, maneuver and fires, and stretch its expeditionary capability with putting logistics, sustainment and medical capabilities ashore. Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa along the Gulf of Aden, is home to the growing military base at Camp Lemonnier and an austere, desert range complex.

“It is a challenging environment, one of the toughest places to train,”Nelms said. “It very much simulates other locations in 5thFleet, where we may need to operate in.”

The exercise and presence, he noted, “is a demonstration of our commitment the region, that as we come into theater we immediately start to maintain our readiness, demonstrating to our partners that we are a reliable and very capable force that’s ready to play a role as the commander needs.”

Lance Cpl. Riley Crider, a machine gunner assigned to Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, waits for orders during a fire team maneuver drill while participating in Theater Amphibious Combat Rehearsal (TACR) 18 on Sept. 8, 2018. US MArine Corps Photo

For Essex ARG, TACR training will help “our proficiency at conducting amphibious operations from the sea,” Olin said. “It’s a great chance for us to run all of our ship-to-shore connectors. We have to move a large amount of material off all three ships. We have to move a lot of people. It’s a pretty complex task to do that… swiftly and to do it safely. That’s what we are trying to maintain that right now.” Those connectors – air-cushioned landing crafts (LCAC) and utility landing craft (LCU) along with support flight operations, “is about a two or three day process,” he said. “Then we will repeat that on the back end of this event.”

The Essex ARG will participate in the Theater Countermine and Maritime Security Exercise, which is playing out in the waters that include Bab el Mandeb, a strait that connects the busy waterways of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. “We are practicing our ability to maintain freedom of navigation through key chokepoints throughout the region,” said Olin. “We practice our ability to conduct command and control for counter-mine forces, to protect those forces at sea and then to provide the command and control.”

While supporting the mine warfare component commander during MCMEX 18-3, Essex will serve as a prime command and control node for mine-hunting forces, he said, “so we have the command and control and the teamwork built for the many different organizations that roll into that.” Other maritime training will involve ARG/MEU teams practicing ship-boarding, or visit-board-search-seizure, missions.

During the TACR training, Nelms said, assault support forces from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (Reinforced)’s complement of CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters, MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, UH-1 Huey utility helicopters and AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, “will get a great rep in the environment here and practice landing in austere environment. We’ll be incorporating the F-35Bs into the play of the problem throughout the exercise, primarily focused on supporting the Marines on the ground.”

Commanders said the F-35B is a key part of providing the amphibious force with advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that it can use most anywhere it’s needed. “What makes our ARG/MEU team such a unique capability in the theater is its mobility, its access from the sea,” Nelms said. “It makes them a flexible choice for the commander. And that would be the same for the aircraft that are embarked. While the F-35B is an incredibly capable aircraft, the ability to put it on amphibious shipping and have the option to place it anywhere you want in the 5th Fleet region buys the commander an incredible amount of flexibility.”

Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) transits the Gulf of Aden during a vertical replenishment while on a regularly scheduled deployment of Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). US Navy Photo

Lt. Col. Kyle Shoop, who commands VMFA 211, a Yuma, Ariz.-based squadron, said the squadron was racking up more time deployed at sea than any other squadron and is “continually working with the ship to define best practices during this first deployment.”

“It’s been a good while since we had done any close-air support… getting our skills refined again, get everybody to shoot the guns, dropping the bombs and supporting the Marines on the ground,” Shoop said.

After leaving San Diego on Essex for Hawaii, the F-35B squadron flew some blue-water operations, including handling scenarios safely if there’s no divert field. In Hawaii, a detachment trained and flew with the F-22 Raptor, the Air Force’s newest, fifth-generation fighter.

Continuing westward, he said, the squadron got clearances to use its AIM-9 Sidewinder missile for basic firing maneuvering training, conducted close are support missions in Malaysia and conducted forward refueling operations at smaller islands in the western Pacific along with the CH-53E and MV-22. “So we stayed pretty busy doing some new stuff and breaking some ground,” he said.

Earlier this year during a briefing during the WEST 2018 conference in San Diego, Shoop said he was concerned about whether the squadron would get spare parts and other logistics support it needs for the new jet once they left San Diego. “So far, it’s worked out great. Lockheed has been fully committed,” he told USNI News. “We’ve got some support onboard, via (Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13),” and Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 13 are supporting them at each logistics location ashore. “No major hiccups thus far,” he said.

 

 

  • RunningBear

    The addition of the F-35 to the ARG..“is a very significant
    enabler for me and for my team. It increases battle space awareness with
    data fusion and the ability to share information with the ships and the
    ships’ combat control system. So it’s really an extension of our
    sensors, and it also brings to the table a greater increased lethality
    than what we had with previous generation aircraft.

    The F-35B MADL capability with the high bandwidth capacity, provides an E-2C/D capability to the ARG and a new OTH awareness that can be shared with the DDG/CG escorts of an ESG. The same MADL “could” communicate air-to-air with the vertical lift aircraft “and” troops with increased real time SA of their LZ, both from an ISAR video as well as the IR survey of the surrounding area in the CAS mode of operations.
    IMHO
    Fly Navy
    🙂

    • Graeme Rymill

      “The F-35B MADL capability with the high bandwidth capacity, provides an E-2C/D capability to the ARG and a new OTH awareness that can be shared with the DDG/CG escorts of an ESG.”
      You are talking about future enhancements I take it? Current F-35B data links to the E-2 would currently be via Link 16 would it not?

      • RunningBear

        MADL was utilized in the LLS-1 AEGIS/ NIFC-CA demonstration with the SM-6 attack on a remote mobile target; 12Sep16. But probably yes, the new E-2D should have the capacity to add the small box and antennas to interface with mission computer for MADL data streams. MADL is Low Probability to Detect/ Low Probability to Intercept communications (“line of sight”, stealth communications in the RF world of Link16) and a much higher bandwidth (more data). F-35 Link16 to an E-2 localizes the F-35 for interested parties. OTH the MADL datalink provides a much more sensor capable analyzed datastream for the E-2 to relay to other Link16 users; SBugs, Ships, Vertical Lift, etc. The Mission Data Files are updated by ALIS for each flight with the latest available ISR data and “may” be more complete than E-2’s.

        OBTW, the ships can link MADL to CEC/ NIFC-CA with the same small box and antennas, thus providing OTH to Amphibs, CVNs, etc. aside from the E-2s.
        IMHO
        Fly Navy
        🙂

  • DaSaint

    Gidget, good info, but please, please proof your article before submitting for publishing. Much thanks.

    • Rocco

      What’s wrong with it?

      • RDF

        Speling. Gramer.

        • Rocco

          Lol

  • Duane

    It’s great to see these new birds getting out to the ARGs and getting integrated with all the Marines and other equipment for deployed ops! The learning curve for the MEUs will be steep, but the payoff will be a massive increase in capability.

  • marc6850

    Not having been in the Navy though the Army, I am wondering how the Navy will support these Marine carrying ships in a beach landing against defenders with considerable strength and artillery? The Navy does not have any big gun ships like those used in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. Are F-35’s supposed to provide continuous support or what?

    • RDF

      Well you are supposed to land where they ain’t. But yes naval and other strike forces will pinpoint strike any known beach area strongpoints. The Marines are just as formidable with a vertical assault to secure beach areas for LCAC landings of armor.

    • Duane

      In WW2, where most of the major amphibious landings took place, naval bombardment proved mostly useless at softening up hard beach defenses. Hardened reinforced concrete bunkers and massive cave and tunnel networks proved impervious to even 16 in BB projectiles, as our own soldiers and Marines discovered to their bloody horror in both the ETO and PTO, despite assurances from the brass that the big guns would get the job done. Instead, every bunker and cave and tunnel system had to be assaulted one by one on the ground, an inch at a time.

      The point is that heavily defended beaches must not be directly assaulted.

      The Marines can assault lightly to moderately defended beaches, but dug in beach defenses need to be leapfrogged, using aerial transport via Ospreys. Go after the beach defenses from the rear, where they are mostly defenseless, then bring the rest of the MEU to a beach we already control.

      That was supposed to be the function of the airborne divisions at Normandy, but it didn’t work that great due to the widely scattered paratroopers in a night jump. The use of Ospreys provides a far more concentrated airborne force.

      • Right in all respects except for your characterization of the purpose of the D-Day airborne landings.

        With respect, the purpose of the airborne landings on D-Day was NEVER to assault the invasion beaches from the rear.

        The purpose was to delay and confuse the 2nd echelon reinforcing German units, and to seize critical bridges and transportation centers (road intersections) to prevent the Germans from reinforcing the beach defense units and to allow the breakout units from the invasion beaches to more quickly move inland.

        While the airborne landings on D -1 and D-Day were widely scattered, that was also expected and accounted for in the planning. They were considered highly successful at their primary mission of delaying reinforcements and seizing critical roads and bridges.

        • RDF

          Correct. Isolate and confuse the beaches and defenders. In the end with all the scatter everyone got confused. Airborne and defenders.

      • Curtis Conway

        You should tell the Palestinians in Lebanon how ineffective the 16″ guns on the BB-61 Iowa Class Battleships were. They disagree with you vehemently. Hijacked a few aircraft over the issue.

        • Ser Arthur Dayne

          LOL, Iraqis in the Gulf War surrendered to a Pioneer drone (with accompanying live video feed) that was sent to check the damage and adjust fire of the Iowa-class 16″ guns raining down destruction on them… they had never seen such devastating weaponry booms and literally hoisted a white shirt on a pole up in the air to the drone to get the 16″ guns to stop firing. Yeah, very ineffective. (The drone is in some major museum, now, btw). Another ridiculous claim from the Grand Admiral.

          • Curtis Conway

            I suspect if the capability was still around, even 8″ capability, many an adversary would think twice before acting. That kind of NGFS capability was in the original plans for the DD-1000 before it got hijacked. Money changers and politicians were driving the industrial military complex instead of Requirements Based Capability requested by the users of the product (USMC). What ever happened to the Bird in the Hand?

        • Duane

          Ask the Germans or Japanese … or better yet ask the poor dogfaces and marines who got slaughtered by the thousands by all those “destroyed” beach defenders.

          • Curtis Conway

            Duane, there is no such thing as a perfect weapon. However, a 16″ package that weighs nearly a ton provides a lot of room for guidance. Can you imagine the capability of 16″ HVP, how far it could go, and what it could do when it got there? As it is, we will have 5″ form factors, or a 57mm (?!?) to work with which limits your explosive capability, and thus a smaller Spherical Error of Probability (3D-SEP) of kill upon going off. BETTER BE CLOSE! It’s like you ignore the physical universe with almost every comment, and look to STAR TREK phasers of the future. Stargate SG-1 . . . is a tv show.

        • Rocco

          Kudos I was there lol!!

        • E1 Kabong

          Speaking of anti-shipping missiles….

      • I believe it’s true that WW2 naval bombardment (and air) could not fully neutralize reinforced defenses, as both Pacific and Normandy beach heads were certainly meat grinders. But the era of vertical maneuver warfare and precision guided munitions has in turn ended the era of pillboxes and shoreline bunkers, making amphibious assault more survivable.

        Imagine a coastal adversary planning to repel U.S. military action. Any general or planner who suggests immovable concrete bunkers – all visible to satellites and requiring a major logistical investment – would be dismissed. They would be forced to prepare for an Iraq War scenario; a sustained air war followed by allied ground forces arrayed on multiple fronts of which the sea is only one front.

        Also, there was no precision strike in WW2, and practically no deep penetration munitions. The Japanese and Germans merely kept their heads down until allied forces were close enough to cease naval gunnery and dumb bombs on the shoreline. Today’s enemy troops would fear manning any shore emplacement against precision strike.

        Lastly, there was no helo lift in WW2; it was all two dimensional warfare. Since then the era of vertical maneuver warfare has rendered shoreline defenses too expensive as they are so easily leapfrogged by 2/3rds of the amphibious force in choppers.

        So, other than landmines (breachable by bombs) and anti-ship mines (breachable by UDT-SEALS), an enemy would only invest in foxholes and tanks, thus sacrificing those troops and making an amphibious surface assault more survivable. This may all seem like trivial tokenism with a few waves of Marines. But over 3/4ths of U.S. arms and critical logistics MUST arrive by sea (including Air Force fuel and Army vehicles) and so shoreline access remains a doctrinal priority.

        • Duane

          Bunkers require precision bunker busters. Possible only if the defenders have no air defenses … a foolish bet against any near peer adversary. And cave and tunnel networks are totally impervious unless you plan to nuke the beach defenses.

          Going after hardened beach defenses is just dumb warfighting, equivalent to civil war troops doing Picket’s charge. American civilians will no longer tolerate the massacre of thousands of charging soldiers. They didn’t even like it much back in the so called “greatest generation” days of WW2.

          When Nimitz, MacArthur, and Marshall finally figured out that they were looking at more than a million allied casualties in the invasion of Japan’s home islands (by summer 1945 they learned that Japan had returned hundreds of thousands of troops from China to reinforce the home islands, counter to earlier assumptions by invasion planners), they feared civil unrest and even rebellion at such hellish sacrifice. That more than anything drove Truman’s decision to nuke Japan.

          • Absolutely right about enemy air defenses, thus they are the first threat requiring destruction before any ground offensive begins including amphibious landings. Air defenses must light up radars, and radars are usually the first targeted, usually by stealth penetration as we saw with the F-117 over Iraq (’91 & ’03) and Serbia (’99) during the first days of conflict (and now here comes the F-35). Such air actions are not exclusive to amphibious assault; they are a planned component of it.

            Perhaps a more effective way of measuring amphibious assault’s survivability is to ask this question: What nation on earth is presently building or maintaining MODERN shoreline fortifications to repel an amphibious landing? Mere foot troops on a shore would not qualify. Maybe N.Korea wants to count, but mostly because they lack modern defenses; their fortifications are 50+ years old, thus manned for stale legacy purposes. If we can’t name more than 2-3 nations, then amphibious assault remains achievable.

          • Duane

            Correct – nobody today is building the equivalent of the Germans’ Atlantic Wall, or the Japanese cave and/or tunnel systems used on Iwo or Okinawa on ocean beaches. But it only took a matter of months to erect those defenses during WW2. So if a near peer adversary invaded allied territory and decided to dig in, it does not take that much time to harden a beach.

            So, as always, the point is to avoid amphibious landings against such hardened targets. In WW2, it was impossible to prosecute the war without such landings. But such accounted for many of the bloodiest battles. It is hard to imagine the American public today tolerating single battles, fought over a few weeks time, that kill and maim as many American soldiers as we lost and maimed in 7 years of war in Iraq.

      • RunningBear

        “The Marines can assault lightly to moderately defended beaches, but dug
        in beach defenses need to be leapfrogged, using aerial transport via
        Ospreys. Go after the beach defenses from the rear, where they are
        mostly defenseless, then bring the rest of the MEU to a beach we already
        control”

        ….in Spades!!!
        IMHO
        Fly Navy
        🙂

    • Hugh

      Reportedly future amphibious ships will use helicopters without landing craft, as quicker and less vulnerable.

      • Yes, but there will remain a requirement for true amphibious assault for some time to come, as semi-submersible small craft are much harder to effectively strike (and coincidentally, to see, especially at night) than aircraft in environments with modern IADS such as the S400.

      • Rocco

        Wrong

    • E1 Kabong

      The CVN’s are farther off shore.

  • George Hollingsworth

    So, how much payload (fuel and ordinance) can these things carry compared to an A-6? Plus, the A-6 can come home with an engine shut down.

    • Unrealistic comparison.

      The A6 has not been in service for over a decade, and even then it was only the EA-6’s. The regular strike versions have been out of service for over 2 decades.

      The A-6 also had ZERO air-to-air capability.

      Given that our future includes likely conflict with China or Russia, it’s rather important that the Marine Corps fields a strike fighter capacity that is actually capable of fulfilling the “fighter” part of that equation.

      The A-6 could also never survive in an environment with modern IADS. The F35 can.

      If the Marines need another fixed wing platform, it would be the new OA-X light strike platform the Air Force is leading development on, as it allows a highly persistent, low-speed (critical to CAS strike missions), and extremely low cost per flight hour solution for CAS in permissive IADS environments.

      The F-35 flight hours can then be saved for the less permissive environments.

      • Curtis Conway

        Following the Gulf War, Intruders were used to patrol the no-fly zone in Iraq and provided air support for U.S. Marines during Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. The last A-6E Intruder left U.S. Marine Corps service on 28 April 1993.[15] Wiki

        • Rocco

          How can it do air support?? It carried no gun or defensive missiles!

          • Curtis Conway

            Roco, is there data communications to the weapon fairings? Gun pod!

          • Rocco

            A friend of mine was a plane Capt on A-6E ‘s aboard the America!! VA 85 . They never carried him pods!! Only the Phantom did my Bird!

          • Curtis Conway

            Hey Rocco, I’m talking possibilities not what was real at the time. No communications control mechanisms for a gun were provided at that time. However, an A-6(X) of today would have 1553/1760 or something out there and the capability would not be that hard. A lot of them parked in the desert. An A-6 with F404 engines would really be something. One would have to go all the way through the airframe and make it into a digital-electric bird with onboard test. With the smart munitions we have today, there are all kinds of possibilities. Once Air Supremacy is established Stealth does not mean much. It can increase your survivability against radar guided missiles, but that is about it.

          • Rocco

            A super A6 was in the making but never was approved. Besides it wouldn’t work. The refuel probe would snap off at speeds more than Mach 1 & not very aerodynamic.

          • E1 Kabong

            NO gun pod was used in service on A-6’s.

          • Curtis Conway

            If you have been reading the comments . . . CAREFULLY . . . you would notice that I already know that. However, reworking the units in the desert could provide some answers for far less than building whole new aircraft.

          • E1 Kabong

            CAREFULLY, think and try being PRACTICAL.

          • Curtis Conway

            Practicality (+ cost), and reality of an nuclear air-to-air intercept missile is what killed the YF-12A.

          • Rocco

            No that missile became the AIM -54 on the tomcat! I spoke to a CIA col who flew the A-12 prototype last month! …. Not kidding. He’s 81 now.

          • Curtis Conway

            Thank You ! Thank You !!! old E1 Kabong still thinks this A-12 Interceptor and nuclear missile business is just fiction.

          • Rocco

            El-Kabong is an idiot just like the 70’s cartoon!!

          • Curtis Conway

            Rocco, there is not doubt you are correct about that. However, I am not aware of any example of a nuclear yield capable AIM-54. Are you?

          • Rocco

            I can’t say I have Curtis as this missile a range of 100 mi. For it to be misguided with a nuke warhead would be very bad lol. But you just peaked my curiosity to dig on this in my tomcat book.

          • E1 Kabong

            Speaking of the AIM-26 Falcons deployed on the F-102’s and AIR-2 Genie armed F-101B’s and F-106’s…

            Yeah, cancelling a program because it is not practical is just plain crazy, right?

          • Curtis Conway

            The F-102 was a dog of an interceptor, but the F-106 solved those problems, and I actually got to pet some (119th TFS New Jersey Devils, 125th Fighter Interceptor Wing NAS Jax).

          • E1 Kabong

            Yet, they were in service….along with those nuclear tipped missiles you said weren’t “practical” enough to deploy…

          • Rocco

            This is why we have the Prowler. It’s supper sonic can out manuver an A6 & run circles around it & other aircraft.

          • Curtis Conway

            Now you are starting to worry me. The EA-6B Prowler is very much a subsonic aircraft. Maximum speed: 566 knots (651 mph, 1,050 km/h)
            Cruise speed: 418 kt (481 mph, 774 km/h) Wiki.

          • Rocco

            Oops lol 🤔 I ment growler!! Lol F-18G. My eyes I tell ya!!😎🤓🕵️

          • Curtis Conway

            The EA-18G Growler is basically and F/A-18F with a lot of extra wiring and some wingtip pods. The Australians bought some F/A-18F Super Hornets with extra wiring installed and they are flying great EA-18G Growler missions. Now the USN is not the only Electronic Attack birds in the Allied forces.

          • Rocco

            You betcha

      • George Hollingsworth

        So, you are not going to answer the question? These F-35s are set to go up against Arab gomers with their AK-47s. Which aircraft had you rather be in, an A-6 with a NFO doing all the heavy-lifting not to mention two engines, or scrunched in a single-seat, single-engine F-35 with negligible fuel to go with your negligible ordnance load?

        • RunningBear

          George,

          A F-35 can hit a truck full of AK-47 gomers on the move. It can tell a Marine where the gomers are located and even send them an ISAR photo of their location. IR detection day/night and upto 18Klb of precision weapons. No way in heck would I ask air support for an A-6 instead of the F-35 if I’m humping a ruck and rifle and hunting for gomers. I’m a .308 guy not .223.
          IMHO
          Fly Navy
          🙂

        • Tom

          I’d rather give this aircraft and this generation of sea warrior a chance to make their mark. I remember when the original A6 deployed the Skyraider community was doubting its capabilities especially for loitering over the battle field. It worked out and so will the F35B

        • E1 Kabong

          Did the A-6 have to face SA-20’s or SA-22’s?

      • Rocco

        Agreed

    • Ser Arthur Dayne

      The F-35B was never designed to replace the A-6 or even be compared to it — it was designed to give the Marines an aircraft to replace the AV-6B Harrier II , with an aircraft that had the capabilities of an F/A-18 Hornet (the original, single-seat versions) but that could operate in STOVL / amphibious assault ships / short & unprepared air-fields. When you compare the F-35B to the Harrier, the F-35B literally beats it significantly in every single measured category (except price). A fleet of F-35B-filled amphibious assault ships changes the USMC’s capabilities tremendously. I am sure the A-6 was a great aircraft but it’s not really fair to compare it to the F-35, it’s like asking how the Stryker ICV compares to the M60 Patton tank.

      • Rocco

        Not quite! It’s AV-8B not 6! Also the Harrier hands down can take it in a dog fight situations in without the F-35B using its radar lock! Guns to guns!

        • E1 Kabong

          Prove it.

    • RunningBear

      A-6 with a tailhook is similar to the F-35 CV with a tailhook. They say it can configure to 18Klb weapons and 19.5Klb fuel but as others have mentioned it has a SA capacity to share data with the F-35B STOVL and it can re-target smart weapons (stand-off) after launch and both can carry a gun. The Universal Armament Interface/ UAI is a Block 4 upgrade that connects present and future smart weapons as “plug and play” (no rewiring). Each F-35 in the area of the Marines becomes a mini-AWACS/ JSTARS/ CAS for air and ground support for the rifleman.
      IMHO
      Fly Navy
      🙂

      • E1 Kabong

        Similar?

        Yeah, they’re both aircraft…

    • jetcal1

      Think of it as a cross between an A-4 and Harrier.

    • Duane

      More often than not, loss of one engine means loss of both engines … if due to battle damage, an engine fire, an explosive disintegration, or fuel starvation. Two engines side by side are pretty much going to run or fail together.

      Besides, modern turbine engines very rarely just stop making power.

      As to comparing the F-35B to an A-6, it is apples to oranges.

      A-6 – third gen non-stealthy subsonic CTOL

      F-35b – stealthy 5th gen supersonic STOVL, worlds best sensors and ECM, world’s most capable and lethal fighter, by far, undefeated in air to air exercises with fourth gens. The B model has about the same range as the A6, while the A and C models have about 50% greater range than the A6. The F-35 can carry a bit more weapons load than the A6, tho the B model is more constrained on internal weaps load, it can still load up the external hard points.

      • George Hollingsworth

        “More often than not, loss of one engine means loss of both engines … if due to battle damage, an engine fire, an explosive disintegration, or fuel starvation. Two engines side by side are pretty much going to run or fail together.”

        Four years with an F-4E wing comprising five squadrons says… no.

        • Rocco

          Agreed!! F-4J & S!!

      • Roger Ball

        Loss of one engine doesn’t necessarily mean the loss of both.

        During eleven years and 2,000 hours flying Tomcats, with multiple single engine failures and shutdowns along the way, I never lost both.

        The single engine A7 Corsair had almost double the mishap rate of other Navy carrier based airframes during its time. Let’s hope the F-35 doesn’t match that stat.

        • Rocco

          Kudos

        • E1 Kabong

          What about A-4’s?
          Harriers?

      • Rocco

        You have no idea what your talking about!! Each engine can run independent!!

      • E1 Kabong

        Duaney, go look up those F/A-18’s that took MANPAD hits…

    • Rocco

      A-6’s were bomb trucks to begin with! 18k lbs worth. Mainly dropping fee fall bombs. No comparison!

    • E1 Kabong

      An A-6?

      Silly comparison.

      Why not compare it to a B-52?
      An F-111?
      An A-7?

      Plus, what about those Harriers? F-8’s? A-4’s? Super Etendards? A-7’s?

      ALL single engined….

  • b2

    It is what it is.
    Hopeful, hubristic USMC spin as one would expect, but a decibel lower than what Gen Cartwright spun. An expensive “CAS” machine as per the tout.. No more Yemen 2016s … Be safe and good luck.

  • Bill

    Interesting the jets in the photo are carrying Sidewinders on pylons externally.

    • Rocco

      Yes & on the starboard side only!

  • George Hollingsworth

    I am curious as to how much fuel and ordinance the B model can carry when operating in the SVTOL mode as opposed to a Marine squadron operating them off of a conventional land base runway as the Marines have often done in the past. (Apparently it is not possible to load the B model up with fuel and ordinance and cat shoot them off a carrier). The B model is maxed out at 60,000 pounds while the A and C models have a 70,000 pound limit. If the B model is limited to 60,000 pounds is that for the STOL mode AND the conventional runway mode? Or is the STOL mode somewhat less? Seems like a B model using a runway would have a significantly higher maximum allowable weight than the same airplane using the SVTOL mode.

    • Rocco

      No difference ! The B model wasn’t designed for a cat shot! It can certainly take off from a full size carrier but without assistance! Also the B version doesn’t have a 2 wheel front gear! & The internal bays are smaller.

      • George Hollingsworth

        Well you certainly can’t do the VTOL thingy with a 60,000 pound gross weight aircraft and a 50,000 pound thrust engine. Crunching the numbers an empty B (32,472 lbs) with full internal fuel (13,326 lbs) could load about 4,000 pounds of ordinance before reaching 50,000 lbs. The short carrier deck could help matters a bit but I still don’t see the aircraft getting up to 60,000 pounds with an unassisted short deck take-off run.

        • Rocco

          OK thanks

        • Rocco

          Have you ever seen videos on YouTube of the B model launch off America?

    • E1 Kabong

      F-35B’s were NEVER designed to use catapults.

      Neither were Harriers.

  • E1 Kabong

    That’s obvious.

  • George Hollingsworth

    What is the fuel/ordinance payload of an F-35B operating off of a normal airbase and what is the fuel/ordinance payload of a F-35B operating off of one of these short marine assault carriers? It would seem to be a simple question.