The USA’s America Class NAAS: Carrier Air + Amphibious Assault
LHA 6 delivered; GAO Report details differences between ships of class; Timeline added; Dashboard added; Budgets 2013 – 2019.
April 10/14: Delivery. HII’s Ingalls shipyard delivers the LHA 6 America to the US Navy in Pascagoula, MS. Commissioning is set for late 2014. Sources: US Navy, “Navy Accepts Delivery of the future USS America” | HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Delivers Amphibious Assault Ship America (LHA 6)”.
March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. The report cites a high degree of rework on LHA 6, and the fact that they began construction with the design just 65% complete may have something to do with that. That has raised costs, and helped make the ship’s delivery 19 months late. Another $42.4 million will be spent on rework of the ship’s deck to cope with the F-35B’s exhaust and downwash (q.v. Jan 17/12). GAO adds that:
“Although not considered critical technologies, the program has identified an additional six key subsystems necessary to achieve capabilities. Five of these subsystems are mature. The sixth, the [GPS-guided] Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, is still in development, but LHA 6 can use backup aviation control systems to meet requirements. There are no new critical technologies expected for LHA 7 or LHA 8, but requirements for LHA 8 are still in development.”
Beyond the new deck design, design changes to LHA 7 will include a new firefighting system and updates to the radar and the command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence systems. One hopes that key survivability upgrades (q.v. Jan 28/14) are also on this list. Design changes to LHA 8 will add a well deck that can accommodate 2 landing craft, and they’re considering designs that would allow compartments to be reconfigured in low-risk areas, in order to meet changing mission needs with less rework.
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
News & Views
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