V- 22 did. … It will absolutely, positively, change the
Marine Corps Expeditionary Units and the
Amphibious Ready Groups and other expeditionary
forces in a way that is yet to be defined.”
Davis noted that to prove it was ready for combat,
VMFA-121 “did a fantastic job” demonstrating the F- 35’s
multimission capabilities on air interdiction, offensive
counter-air and armed reconnaissance missions.
On the armed reconnaissance mission, the general
said, the squadron had “to go out there and patrol, look
for targets, using the sensors they have. We gave them
difficult targets to find. … They went out there, found
The multimission capability as ISR collector and
strike platform that the naval air leaders see for the
F- 35 is being demonstrated by the Air Force’s fifth-
generation F-22s in the anti-Islamic State air campaign
in Iraq and Syria.
“The F- 22’s advanced sensors and low-observable
characteristics enable us to operate much closer to
noncoalition surface-to-air missiles and fighter aircraft
with little risk of detection,” an Air Force pilot said in
a release from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. “We
provide increased situational awareness for other coali-
tion aircraft while simultaneously delivering precision
At the CSIS forum, Shoemaker and Davis listed the
other naval air platforms that can contribute to the
integrated warfighting effort.
Shoemaker said the Navy has replaced its EA-6Bs
with the EA-18Gs, which will “provide electromagnet-
ic dominance in our strike groups and … provide
advanced warning of attack, the ability to screen and
protect our strike groups and joint forces, as well as to
support those Marine forces on ground.”
The Navy also is finishing the transition in its sea-
based helicopters, he said, to the MH-60R, primarily
an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platform, and the
MH-60S, which conducts anti-surface warfare, air-
borne mine countermeasures, supports special opera-
tions forces and does search and rescue. Both also con-
tribute to the integrated warfighting effort with their
electronic sensors and visual reconnaissance.
The Navy now has the second squadron of the new
E-2D airborne early warning and electronic warfare
planes, Shoemaker said.
“With its advanced radar, it brings incredible capabil-
ities to search for and track targets, and also to command
and control munitions across the strike group, whether it
be surface warfare or long-range anti-air warfare. It is
essentially the quarterback for the strike group.”
Shoemaker also cited the Navy’s emerging
unmanned aerial systems (UASs), starting with the
rotary wing MQ-8B Fire Scout, which brings long-
range ISR capabilities to the service’s smaller surface
combatants, including the littoral combat ships.
Fire Scout is being teamed with the MH-60R in
Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, which “will
give the squadron unprecedented situational awareness
by providing real-time surveillance and target acquisition
information to ground or shipboard controllers up to
115 miles away,” a recent Navy release said.
The MQ-8B will be replaced by the larger MQ-8C
with more sensors and endurance.
The Navy’s largest UAS is the MQ-4C Triton, a follow-
on to the RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-
Demonstrator that has been operating in the U.S. Fifth
Fleet theater for three years, Shoemaker said. With its
more than 24-hour endurance and wide-area, maritime-
oriented sensors, the Triton “will provide our joint force
commanders and our fleet commanders with a persistent
ISR” capability, he said.
It will complement the manned P-8As, which are
replacing the P-3Cs, as the Navy’s fixed-wing multi-
mission ISR and ASW aircraft, he said.
“Last, in the unmanned world, will be the carrier-
launched airborne surveillance and strike system
[UCLASS] aircraft,” Shoemaker told CSIS.
A stealthy, long-endurance aircraft, UCLASS is to
build on the capabilities demonstrated by the X-47B.
There has been a prolonged dispute involving Pentagon officials and Congress on whether UCLASS should
be primarily an ISR or strike platform. But, Shoemaker
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2015
U.S. Air Force Lt Gen Christopher C. Bogdan, right, the
program executive officer for the F- 35 Lightning II Joint
Program Office, and U.S. Marine Corps LtGen Jon Davis,
deputy commandant, Aviation, at his left, along with dis-
tinguished visitors from the U.S. Department of Defense
and the U.K. Ministry of Defence, watch as an F-35B
lands on the flight deck of USS Wasp off the coast of
Virginia May 20. Bogdan and Davis brought the delega-
tion to USS Wasp to observe F-35B operational testing.
The Marine Corps declared initial operational capability
for its first F-35B squadron on July 31.