How did this get past the Obama Pentagon?
Suppose you have a brand-new aircraft carrier, but the jets that will operate from that ship won’t be available in sufficient quantities for another five years.Â How do you utilize that platform to its full capabilities in the interim, without its primary strike asset?
For Britain’s Royal Navy, that is the near-term challenge: their new fleet carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, is in the final stages of construction and will begin sea trials next summer, with initial flight training in 2017-2018.Â But with the RN’s first F-35 squadrons not scheduled to achieve their initial operating capability until 2020 (at the earliest), the Brits are looking for aircraft that can embark earlier and provide a combat punch before their own Lightning IIs are ready for action.
The solution is a lesson in creativity and coalition warfare.Â According to the U.S. Naval Institute, the RN has reached agreement with the U.S. Marine Corps to deploy F-35 squadrons on the Queen Elizabeth until British units achieve their IOC in the jet.
Hopefully, a little bit of the USMC swagger will rub off on the Brits for them to take back home.