Military Aviation

Future Carrier Air Wings will have one Squadron of 16 F-35Cs and three F/A-18E/F squadrons totalling 28 Super Hornets

The future wing would still feature 44 strike fighters as it does now, but the mix of Block 4 F-35C Lightning II fighters and Block III F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters changes from 10 and 34, respectively, to 16 and 28.

The US Navy revealed its carrier air wings’ future configuration during the Virtual Hook convention webinar of the Tailhook Association held on Sep. 11, 2020.

During the convention, Rear Adm. Gregory N. Harris, director of Air Warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, specified the numbers and types of aircraft in the future air wing envisioned by the end of the 2020s.  

As reported by Sea Power Magazine, the future wing would still feature 44 strike fighters as it does now, but the mix of Block 4 F-35C Lightning II fighters and Block III F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters changes from 10 and 34, respectively, to 16 and 28. One 16-aircraft F-35C squadron and three F/A-18E/F squadrons totalling 28 Super Hornets will equip the carrier air wing.   

The wing will also include five-to-seven EA-18G Growler electronic combat aircraft, five E-2D Advanced Hawkeye command-and-control aircraft, six-to-ten MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, three CMV-22B Osprey carrier-onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, and five-to-nine MQ-25 Stingray aerial tanker unmanned aircraft.   

An anonymous source also told to Sea Power Magazine that in 2021, USS Carl Vinson will deploy, taking a 10-aircraft F-35C squadron (Strike Fighter Squadron 147) on the aircraft’s first carrier deployment. The ship also will carry two 10-aircraft F/A-18E squadrons and one 14-aircraft F/A-18F squadron.  

The deployment also will mark the first for the CMV-22B.   

The second carrier deployment of the F-35C is scheduled in 2022 by Marine Fighter Attack 314 (VMFA-314).   

As already reported, last June Maj. Derek Heinz and Lt. William Goodwin have been the first two F-35C Lightning II pilots to graduate from the 13-week Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) course, otherwise known as Topgun.

Instructors at Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) gradually develop the curriculum for F-35C by integrating the stealth fighter’s tactics into the training curriculum for previous classes.

For the first time in US naval aviation history, radar-evading stealth capability comes to the carrier deck. The F-35C carrier variant sets new standards in weapon system integration, lethality, maintainability, combat radius and payload that bring true multimission power projection capability from the sea.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35C Lightning II VFA-125 Rough Raiders, NJ406, 169160 / 2018

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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