In Between Carriers, 11th MEU, Makin Island ARG Are Busy In 5th Fleet

USNI News – The new year began with no U.S. aircraft carrier and carrier strike group on watch in the Middle East. But the volatile Middle East region wasn’t devoid of U.S. military projection from the sea. For almost two months – and through the nation’s transition to a new administration – the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the three-ship Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, has been standing post.

MAWTS-1 Advancing F-35B, Marine Aviation Operations For Future Fight

USNI News – In a glimpse of what the future of Marine Corps aviation could bring, this fall F-35B Joint Strike Fighters were operating at long ranges with the MV-22 Osprey, passing information to other aircraft and to ground forces with tablets. Unmanned aerial vehicles provided intelligence, and precision rockets hit targets in dense urban areas. At Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-One (MAWTS-1) and its semi-annual Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) course, top aviators from around the fleet not only trained to high-end warfighting scenarios but also help advance tactics to keep up with real-world developments and conduct experiments with emerging technologies that could give Marines in the air and on the ground an edge on the battlefield.

Marines Refining F-35B Operations, Maintenance At Sea During Final Developmental Test

USNI News – After years of testing to make sure the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and its subsystems work as designed, the Marine Corps has a contingent of pilots and maintainers aboard USS America (LHA-6) now to ensure the new plane can operate from the amphibious ship, in a final test period ahead of next year’s first deployment.

USS Wasp to Japan Next Year in Support of Marine F-35B Squadron Next Year; USS Bonhomme Richard to San Diego

USNI News – Next year the Navy will relocate big deck amphib USS Wasp (LHD-1) from Naval Station Norfolk, Va. to a new homeport in Sasebo, Japan as the USS Wasp has been recently modernized to accommodate the Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35B).

Top Marine: No Need To Change Deploying Groups

Defense News – The 2,500-person Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the basic formation of regularly-deploying US Marine Corps units, typically embarked aboard a three-ship US Navy amphibious ready group (ARG) that deploys for six months or more at a time. But the various units that make up the MEU are often called on to carry out missions hundreds of miles apart, even thousands of miles. It’s not unusual that the MEU and ARG, which together train before the deployment to operate as a single unit, split up once in theater to the point where the three ships might not even see each other for months. So does it make sense to continue that MEU/ARG construct? Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Corps, says yes.

F-35B Tactics Evolving As Pilots’ Understanding Of Technology Matures

USNI News – The Marine Corps’ top aviator said the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter pilots have matured in their understanding of the new platform in the year since the service declared initial operational capability (IOC), pushing themselves to push past planned tactics and create a new way of using the fifth-generation technology.

Navy Digging Out Of Fighter Shortfall; Marines Still Struggling To Fly At Home

USNI News – A three-pronged approach is helping the Navy keep its strike fighter inventory shortfall at a “manageable” level –speeding up legacy Hornet life extension work, preparing to conduct the Super Hornet life extension program more efficiently, and buying new Super Hornets – though the Marines’ legacy Hornet fighter inventory is so strained there are hardly any planes available for day-to-day squadron training.

Kearsarge ARG, 26th MEU Return to East Coast; Artillery Detachment Remains in Iraq

USNI News – Sailors and Marines assigned to the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will begin returning from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East starting today. However, an artillery detachment from the 26th MEU assigned to a collation fire support base in Iraq will remain until an unnamed Army unit relieves them.

U.S. Ospreys win Japanese hearts and minds with quake relief flights

Reuters – The U.S. military’s MV-22 Osprey aircraft has been a lightning rod for opposition to U.S. bases in Japan since 24 of them were deployed on the southern island of Okinawa in 2014. By sending eight of the tilt-rotor Ospreys to help with relief efforts for survivors of recent earthquakes on Kyushu island, both U.S. and Japanese military planners have been able to showcase an aircraft they see as necessary for Japan’s defense.