USNI News polled its writers, naval analysts and service members on what they consider the most important military and maritime stories in 2016.
2016 was a year of transition for the Marine Corps, with a new operational concept and several follow-up warfighting concepts released and with the operational F-35B Joint Strike Fighter fleet preparing for its first overseas operations in 2017. Overseas operations in the Middle East, Pacific and even in the Caribbean kept the force busy, while leaders at home continued to work their way out of an ongoing aviation readiness crisis. Read More
Two F-35B Joint Strike Fighters arrive aboard USS America for STOVL Developmental Test-III, 28 October 2016. US Navy photo.
An F-35B Joint Strike Fighter with the Marine Corps’ training squadron experienced a fire in its weapons bay during a training mission on Oct. 27, and the service is still investigating, according to a statement provided to USNI News. Read More
U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) fly in formation during FINEX-3 near Yuma, Ariz., Oct. 22, 2016. FINEX-3 was part of Weapons Tactics Instructors (WTI) course 1-17, a seven week training event hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. US Marine Corps photo.
This article is the second in a two-part series on the future of Marine Corps aviation. To read about how F-35B Joint Strike Fighter testers and operational pilots are preparing for the plane’s first deployment, please click this link.
YUMA, Ariz. – In a glimpse of what the future of Marine Corps aviation could bring, this fall F-35B Joint Strike Fighters were operating at long ranges with the MV-22 Osprey, passing information to other aircraft and to ground forces with tablets. Unmanned aerial vehicles provided intelligence, and precision rockets hit targets in dense urban areas.
At Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-One (MAWTS-1) and its semi-annual Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course, top aviators from around the fleet not only trained to high-end warfighting scenarios but also help advance tactics to keep up with real-world developments and conduct experiments with emerging technologies that could give Marines in the air and on the ground an edge on the battlefield. Read More
Peter “Wizzer” Wilson and Maj. John Dirk arrive aboard USS America for STOVL DT-III, 28 October 2016. US Navy photo.
This article is the first in a two-part series on the future of Marine Corps aviation. To read about how MAWTS-1 is discovering how to best integrate the F-35B and other weapons systems for a high-end air fight, please click this link.
ABOARD USS AMERICA, OFF THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA – After years of testing to make sure the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and its subsystems work as designed, the Marine Corps has a contingent of pilots and maintainers aboard USS America (LHA-6) now to ensure the new plane can operate from the amphibious ship, in a final test period ahead of next year’s first deployment. Read More
Sailors celebrate the U.S. Navy’s 241st birthday aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) on Oct. 12, 2016. US Navy Photo
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post had the incorrect unit number for the first Marine Fighter Attack Squadron to field F-35Bs in Japan. It’s Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) “Green Knights,” no VMFA-211.
Next year the Navy will relocate big deck amphib USS Wasp (LHD-1) from Naval Station Norfolk, Va. to a new homeport in Sasebo, Japan, U.S. Fleet Forces announced on Monday. Read More
The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) conducts flight operations while underway to Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016. US Navy photo.
ABOARD USS AMERICA — The new amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) has raised more than a few questions in its short life, with sailors and Marines alike wondering what it will mean to have an amphibious ship without a well deck and therefore without the ability to deploy landing craft to move heavy tanks and equipment ashore.
America’s recent participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2016 international exercise may have allayed some concerns – the resounding feedback from those involved in the ship’s operations is that, if the Marines are willing to tweak the composition of the deploying Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), America can move them faster, more agilely and more safely. Read More
An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 takes off during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 20. This is the first time that the fifth generation fighter has participated in the multiservice air-to-air combat training exercise. US Marine Corps photo.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Marine Corps’ top aviator said the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter pilots have matured in their understanding of the new platform in the year since the service declared initial operational capability (IOC), pushing themselves to push past planned tactics and create a new way of using the fifth-generation technology. Read More
A F-35B, assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, flies level as a F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 177th Fighter Squadron from the New Jersey Air National Guard, banks hard during approach July 15, 2016 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. US Air Force Photo
The Marine Corps’ next-generation fighter took to the skies last week with its military contemporaries during Red Flag, the military’s premier advanced aerial combat training exercise. Read More
U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) performs it’s first flight at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., June 29, 2016. US Marine Corps photo.
The Marine Corps’ second F-35B Joint Strike Fighter squadron stood up today, as the AV-8B Harrier-flying Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 became Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211. Read More
A Marine inspects an F/A-18C Hornet from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, Jan. 7, 2015. US Marine Corps photo.
Marine Corps aviation, struggling to meet its operational and training missions with a shrinking fleet of aged F/A-18 Hornets, is pushing a program to recover and update 30 out-of-service F/A-18Cs in an effort to remain combat ready until the new F-35B is fielded in numbers. Read More