A Generational Change in Naval Aviation Has Begun Amidst Tight Budgets, Fighter Gaps

USNI News – The Navy is making the first major changes to the carrier air wing in a generation. The service just wrapped up the first carrier deployment of the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters – the first new fighter jet on a carrier in 20 years – and is a few years away from introducing the first unmanned aircraft into the air wing. But while the Navy is moving ahead with new platforms and ways of fighting, it is still wrestling with maintenance gaps and a fighter inventory too small to deploy and train efficiently. The service is also shifting its strategy to focus on the Indo-Pacific, a vast region for the carrier air wing to operate in, after two decades of providing close-air support for combat missions in the Middle East and Central Asia.