The U.S. Marine Corps has recently been experimenting with using its America and Wasp class amphibious assault ships as smaller aircraft carriers that can launch sorties of short takeoff/vertical landing F-35Bs. Now, with the Navy struggling to keep its carrier fleet operational amid maintenance issues and the additional delays to the deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy is considering leaning on the Lightning Carrier concept until they can get their full sized carrier program back on track.

“I have a demand for carriers right now that I can’t fulfill. The combatant commanders want carriers,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said. “My job is to see how I can fulfill that requirement the best I can.”

America’s latest and most advanced carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford likely won’t be able to deploy until 2024. (WikiMedia Commons)

A full of half of the Navy’s ten operational aircraft carriers cannot currently deploy due to maintenance or repair issues, and it now looks as though the Ford will be operational a full three years behind schedule. However, combat operations for the U.S. military have not dwindled. In fact, some have already postulated that the Pentagon has increased troop deployments in Saudi Arabia over concerns about America’s inability to maintain a carrier presence in the region, though officials have dismissed these claims. The USS Abraham Lincoln Nimitz class aircraft carrier is set to leave the region sometime this year, but its replacement, the USS Harry S. Truman will no longer come to relieve it, as the Truman is down with issues with its electrical systems.

Aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) continues to face issues with its electrical system even as repairs are ongoing. (WikiMedia Commons)

“[Defense] Secretary Esper informed Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Muhammad bin Salman this morning of the additional troop deployment to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia,” said Chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman in a statement earlier this month. “Taken together with other deployments, this constitutes an additional 3,000 forces that have been extended or authorized within the last month.”