The USA’s America Class NAAS: Carrier Air + Amphibious Assault
October 19/18: HII starts fabricating LHA-8 Huntington Ingalls Industries is starting the fabrication of the US Navy’s next amphibious assault ship. The Bougainville is the third America-class amphibious assault ship and first Flight I ship constructed for the Navy. The America-class ships are part of the Navy’s Seapower 21 doctrine and replace the already decommissioned Tarawa-class LHAs. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. The vessels are able to embark F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and V-22 Osprey aircraft. “Bougainville represents the next generation of amphibious capabilities and is a key component to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy,” James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said in a press release. “The ability to both support Joint Strike Fighter and put Marines ashore will ensure that the Amphibious Fleet remains agile and capable of expeditionary warfare well into the 21st century.” The USS Bougainville (LHA 8) is scheduled to be delivered in 2024.
Modern U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ships project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) / Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). LHA/LHD are a key element of the Seapower 21 doctrine pillars of Sea Strike and Sea Basing, transporting, launching, and landing elements of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) via a combination of LCAC hovercraft, amphibious transports and vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft.
Designed to project power and maintain presence, LHA-Replacement (LHA-R, aka. LH-X, and now the New Amphibious Assault Ship or NAAS) large deck amphibious assault ships were slated to replace the US Navy’s 6 LHA-1 Tarawa Class vessels. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. While its LHA/LHD predecessors were amphibious assault ships with a secondary aviation element, it’s fair to describe the America Class as escort carriers with a secondary amphibious assault role.
The NAAS Program
The LHA-R Ships: 21st Century Escort Carriers
The Well Deck Issue
Power and Influence: Secondary Ship Features
LHA-R: Contracts & Key Events
FY 2010 – 2011
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2007 and Earlier
Background: The America Class
Background: Ship Ancillaries
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