LHA-8:See It Coming
The Marines didn’t care for the LHA-6 America, which is very good for flying off planes, the planned F-35B JSF. The problem is, the giant new amphibious warship doesn’t come with a well-deck for the type of WW 2 style beach landing the service prefers but rarely performs. Here is Phil Ewing at Navy Times:
More than two years before the amphibious assault ship America enters the fleet, Marine officials have already drawn up early plans for a version of the ship that includes a major component America is missing — a well deck.
The “LHA 8 concept,” as it was called in a presentation Monday by Marine Corps Combat Development Command, would combine new aviation features the Marines want in the America class with a traditional big-deck capacity for landing craft and green gear.
Through my crystal ball (also known as past experience), I already have a clear vision of what this multipurpose wonder will look like. The 45,000 ton ship will grow another 10,000 tons, perhaps a hundred feet longer. The pricetag, now surpassing $3 billion each, will rise another $1 billion at least. The 10 helicopter carriers we currently possess will likely shrink to about 6 in a decade or two.
Logically, the tonnage on this ship would be frozen, the aviation facilities reduced, the well-deck work into the design. As I said, this would be the logical course. Historically though, Navy procurement rarely follows logic, giving us 14,000 ton destroyers for $6 billion each, and 3000 ton patrol boats for $700 million each.
In a rational world, the type of ships we buy would reflect our needs, plus sparse shipbuilding budgets. Though our current ships like the Makin Island and Wasp are enormously capable, huge and few platforms are increasingly inflexible due to their shrunken numbers and also are at risk from new anti-access weapons, even older diesel submarines and mines. A better fleet of smaller amphibious light carriers would return flexibility and survivability to the Marines, while sustaining, perhaps increasing our numbers. The French Mistral and the Spanish Juan Carlos are outstanding examples of the type, both pricing at a reasonable half-billion each.
Otherwise, you get more of this: