The US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps (USMC) should consider developing and building 'light carrier'-type ships to support littoral operations associated with amphibious missions, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) recommended in a report published on 16 November.
"The navy and Marine Corps should develop a variant of the LHA [amphibious assault ships] equipped with a catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery [CATOBAR] system that could be classified as a light carrier [CVL]", the Washington-based think tank said. The report is part of a larger navy-sponsored force structure study due to be released soon, according to CSBA and USN representatives.
"With an overall displacement of between 40,000 and 60,000 tons, these vessels would resemble Midway-class carriers in size and capacity," CSBA said. "The addition of a catapult would allow non-STOVL [short take-off/vertical landing] carrier aircraft to operate from its deck such as the E-2D and E/A-18G Growler Airborne Electronic Attack aircraft."
The introduction of CVLs implies a need for a larger and more diverse amphibious fleet, CSBA said. Under the force structure study, CSBA is developing an alternative 30-year shipbuilding plan; under this alternative proposal, "[the] new amphibious fleet includes three LHAs and four CVLs procured at the same rate as the seven LHAs in the current US Navy plan" for fiscal year 2017, the report said…