The U.S. Navy just dropped another $2.4 billion on a class of new light aircraft carriers specifically designed to carry the U.S. Marines’ F-35B stealth jump jet. Just one small problem: the F-35B is still plagued by design problems — and there’s no guarantee if or when they’ll be resolved.
The Navy and Marines run the risk of deploying miniaturized aircraft carriers without aircraft. And they’re not alone. The planeless-carrier problem is afflicting a number of Western militaries.
On Friday the Navy awarded a $2.38 billion contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to build the future USS Tripoli (LHA-7), the second and last vessel of the America class of big-deck amphibious assault ships. The future USS America (LHA-6), also under construction at Huntington Ingalls, is scheduled to leave the builder’s yard in June. “LHA-7 will be a great ship,” Ingalls president Irwin Edenzon crowed.