New aviation platforms and equipment that connect Marines across the sea-air-land are changing the way marines are heading for the next battle.
Senior Marine Aviation leaders have unveiled an ambitious new hull plan as the air force reorients to complement the service’s major overhaul through Force Design 2030.
Lieutenant General Mark Wise, Deputy Commander of Aviation, along with senior commanders of naval aviation, shared details of the first public announcement by the Corps aviation plan from 2019
“Our way of telling everyone is that this is the direction we think naval aviation is going, and we encourage questions when they happen, because if something changes, why has it changed?” Wise said. “Because there must be a good reason for it.”
The plan shows that many military games and experiments over the past year and more in 2022 have been used by Marines to understand how airborne communications connect to a wide range to allow leather necks to detect enemy threats, to inflict almost invisible blows and fade for the next round in a future battle.
But it also gives them the tools to compete daily, long before the first rocket launches.
Although Wise and other senior pilots are optimistic, the plan is not safe from the challenges they face.
“Many communities will be under stress in the coming years as a result of either the sale or the transition,” according to the 2022 Aviation Plan. This is a critical period for Marines and Marines.
Some of these stressed communities will continue to be pilots and supporters of F / A-18.
This is partly because these jets provide more than half of the tactical air capabilities for the entire force.
At the same time, these older aircraft are seeing a transition as the Corps procures and deploys more F-35 squadrons.
These aircraft have an average age of between 27 years and 35 years – older than most pilots.
The number of pilots for these aircraft will decrease as the Corps increases the number of F-35 pilots trained.
F-35 Lightning II
Aviation plan data show that while the Corps produced 36 F / A-18 pilots each year in 2020 and 2021, it planned to train only 26 new F / A-18 pilots in 2022. That number will drop to only eight new pilots in 2027
At the same time, the F-35B and F-35C have moved from a total of 28 new pilots in 2020 and will grow steadily to produce 75 pilots a year by 2027, according to plan.
Many of these new F-35 pilots will be heading to sunny California as the Corps balances modernization on the east and west coasts. These pilots and Marines will have the new jet on their ships, but will still work with the older CH-53E.
CH-53K King Stallion
While on the East Coast, the Marines will see shiny new CH-53Ks, but will still work with AV-8 Harriers.
“You will give priority to each type, model, series on one coast,” Wise said.
This is related to supply chain management, staffing and training.
The Navy also needs to modify L-class ships that will carry F-35s to withstand the heat it generates on takeoff. Experienced personnel carrying out this work could then move on to retrofitting ships on the other shore once it is finished, he said.
“We are facing about a squadron and a half a year,” Wise told F-35.
The first East Coast Squadron will be stationed at Cherry Point Air Force Base, North Carolina, over the next two years, he said.
The CH-53K is expected to be fully operational by 2029.
“The CH-53K will be the only fully marinated heavy-duty helicopter capable of transporting one hundred percent of the vertical (Marine Air Ground Task Force),” according to the aviation plan.
KC-130J Super Hercules
Another great element that the Hull seems to base much of its motion and scooter over wide ranges is the KC-130J.
This modernized transport aircraft is seen as a support for the way the newly formed Marine Coastal Regiments will bring in heavy equipment to strike the coast.
The Marines expect to eventually purchase 86 of the aircraft, the last of which will arrive in inventory by 2027, according to the aviation plan.
Some delayed deliveries of spare aircraft until after fiscal 2024 and “excessive time to meet events at the landfill on schedule” hit the ability of the air wing to maintain operations with the new aircraft, according to plan.
“The biggest factor in the readiness and availability of the KC-130 is the lack of aircraft on the flight line,” according to the aviation plan.
The MV-22 Osprey, in service for nearly two decades, continues to grow its role in the Navy.
The hull expects to be equipped with a “record program” of 360 MV-22B Ospreys to fill 14 active squadrons with a dozen aircraft each, along with two reserve squadrons at the same level. They will also build a squadron to replace the fleet with 27 aircraft, according to the aviation plan.
The aircraft has undergone improvements, including improved flight capabilities in a degraded visual environment, a new flight control computer, helmet tracking capabilities, image processing to display synthetic graphics and virtual landing area symbolism to relieve the pilot’s load in deteriorating visual environment.
Modifications in the design of the forces changed the overall final strength of the squadron. The corps chose to go with a total of 14 squadrons with active final force, instead of the previously planned 18 squadrons.
As for the unmanned side, the hull finally launched and launched its MQ-9 Reaper drone recently.
Since the beginning of April, the Marines have two drones, planning to fill up to 18 Reaper drones.
The force will maintain two active squadrons and one training squadron until 2025, according to the aviation plan, and leaders are considering adding three more drone squadrons.
While the Marines are currently receiving training with Air Force drones, the Corps plans to launch its own Navy / Marine pilot program by fiscal 2024.
Aviation is not just focused on pilots.
The Coastal Air Battalion is a new unit that the air force will join the Coastal Marine Regiment. It will include a staff and service battery, an air defense battery, an air control battery, a front-loading battery and a charging point that can support three FARPs.
The first coastal anti-aircraft battalion rose in February, said Col. Craig Dottie of the Cunningham Group, a key team of aviation advisers.
Located in Hawaii, the unit is in the process of receiving equipment and is beginning the phase of initial operational capability.
The air defense battery will focus around the integrated Marine Corps or MADIS air defense system.
Inside these KC-130Js with the Marine Coastal Regiments flying fast to battle in the area, there will be a ground-to-air radar system.
This equipment has become a center for detecting and defeating air threats from fixed wing to rotary to small drones. It is also key to connecting targeting between ships, aircraft and ground marines.
But G / ATOR has different options for different sets of missions.
The Corps plans to install 17 air surveillance systems; 28 fire / target capture systems; and 12 systems not yet funded for air traffic control.
The Corps expects G / ATOR to reach full operational capability by fiscal year 2025.
Todd South has written about crime, the courts, the government and the military in numerous publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer Finalist for a joint witness intimidation project. Todd is a veteran of the Marines in the Iraq war.