An insight to the Lightning carrier concept aboard the USS Tripoli


As the USMC conducts tests for the Lightning Carrier concept aboard the USS Tripoli (LHA-7), James DeBoer gains insight from the leaders involved. 

Ever since the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II was developed, USMC planners have envisioned the possibility of operating a so-called Lightning Carrier –a US Navy multipurpose amphibious assault (LHA/LHD) type ship packed full of F-35Bs.


An F 35B belonging to the VMX-1 lifts its front wheel as it begins to take off from the USS Tripoli. Most of the aircraft were using less than 500ft for rotation during take-off
 James Deboer

The concept is not a new one for short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. In December 1990, 20 AV-8 Harriers embarked on the USS Nassau (LHA-4) for the start of the first Gulf War. Over a decade later and with the invasion of Iraq imminent, the USS Bataan (LHD-5) and the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) were designated as ‘Harrier Carriers’ and sailed with 24 Harriers aboard.

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