In a surprise statement, the Navy today announced that it will add hundreds of new carrier aviation squadrons to accommodate the impending entry of the F-35C into service. In recognition of the greatly enhanced capabilities of the F-35 compared to the legacy Hornets, each squadron will consist of a single F-35. Each F-35 squadron will provide its own ISR and ECM support as well as strike and air-to-air functions.
Regarding perceived air-to-air shortcomings among uninformed critics, Navy spokesman Adm. Earnest Bilgewater had this to say,
“Air-to-air was a capability that was added just to placate Congress. In reality, since the enemy can’t see the F-35 it will never need to conduct air-to-air functions. There’s no point shooting down enemy aircraft if they can’t harm you, right?”
Further, the Navy has announced plans to give the F-35 a buddy tanking capability. In keeping with the new squadron organization concept, each F-35 will buddy tank itself.
“The F-35 buddy self-tanking capability will nicely complement the F-35’s self-ISR and self-ECM escorting capability that it currently has.”
When questioned about the seemingly small number of aircraft per squadron, the Navy spokesman offered this,
“The unparalleled efficiency and effectiveness of the F-35 compared to any other aircraft means that the new single-aircraft squadrons will be far more capable than the old squadrons of 12 Hornets or even the older squadrons of 14 Tomcats. In fact, given the immense leap in capability that the new squadrons will have, we considered designating each F-35 as two squadrons but we thought that might be too confusing, organizationally, and too hard to represent in presentations. However, we’re going to continue to work on ways to represent that in PowerPoint slides. Our eventual goal, as you might imagine, is to designate each F-35 as its own airwing. Candidly, we don’t have the PowerPoint capability to represent that yet but that’s what we’re working on.”
Well, there you have it, readers. We were puzzled why the Navy would build the Ford larger than the Nimitz even though the airwings were shrinking. Now we know why the Navy increased the size of the Ford over the Nimitz class. The Fords will have to accommodate hundreds of additional squadrons beyond what the Nimitz can. Only a significantly larger carrier could do that.