Warships from U.S., Japan, South Korea Ballistic Missile Defense Drills After North Korean Missile Shots

Five warships from the U.S., Japan and South Korea held a ballistic missile defense exercise in the Sea of Japan as part of the ongoing military response to this week’s North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile test over the Japanese home islands, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said on Thursday. Guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) and guided-missile destroyer USS […]

Republic of Korea Navy guided-missile destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG 991) and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Chokai (DDG 176) on Oct 6, 2022 . US Navy Photo

Five warships from the U.S., Japan and South Korea held a ballistic missile defense exercise in the Sea of Japan as part of the ongoing military response to this week’s North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile test over the Japanese home islands, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said on Thursday.

Guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) and guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) — both attached to the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group — held the drill with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Chokai (DDG-176) and JS Ashigara (DDG-178) and Republic of Korea Navy destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991).

The drills followed shortly after North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles closer to South Korea on Thursday in protest to aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) returning to the Sea of Japan earlier this week.

“This exercise enhances the interoperability of our collective forces and demonstrates the strength of the trilateral relationship with our Japan and Republic of Korea (ROK) allies, which is forward-leaning, reflective of our shared values, and resolute against those who challenge regional stability,” reads the INDO-PACOM statement.

Benfold and Ashigara are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles with Standard Missile 3 BMD interceptors aboard. Chancellorsville has been upgraded to an advanced version of the Aegis combat system that makes it easier to send threat information to other units with similar combat systems.

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Chokai (DDG-176), Republic of Korea Navy guided-missile destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) and U.S. guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) on Oct 6, 2022. US Navy Photo

“This exercise is intended to respond to regional security challenges amid the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan, including North Korea launching ballistic missiles that fly over Japan,” reads a translation of a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
“[The exercise] promotes bilateral cooperation and demonstrates our trilateral commitment to safeguarding common security and prosperity and strengthening the rules-based international order.

In addition to the ballistic missile shots, North Korea scrambled a dozen fighters for a simulated bombing run toward South Korea.

“Eight North Korean fighter jets and four bombers flew in formation north of the inter-Korean air border at around 2 p.m. for around an hour, appearing to carry out air-to-surface firing exercises, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said,” reported news site NK News on Thursday.
“The South Korean military sent out what it called an ‘overwhelming’ response to the DPRK formation with some 30 aircraft, including F-15K fighter jets, but did not specify where they flew or how close they were to the North Korean formation.”

The combined response from the U.S., Japan and South Korea follows a provocative North Korean long-range missile test on Tuesday that overflew the Japanese home islands and landed in the Pacific.

In addition to retasking the Reagan strike group to the Sea of Japan, the U.S. U.S., Korean and Japanese fighters flew show of force missions off the Korean peninsula, USNI News reported.

In total, North Korea has held six missile tests in the last two weeks.

Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Headed Back to Korean Peninsula After North Korean Missile Launch

The Reagan Carrier Strike Group is now in the Sea of Japan following the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile earlier this week, a U.S. defense official confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday. Moving the carrier off the coast of the Korean Peninsula follows the Tuesday launch of a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile […]

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), USS Benfold (DDG 65), Republic of Korea (ROK) ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH 976), and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force JS Asahi (DD-119), steam in formation in waters east of the Korean Peninsula, Sept. 30. US Navy Photo

The Reagan Carrier Strike Group is now in the Sea of Japan following the launch of a North Korean ballistic missile earlier this week, a U.S. defense official confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday.

Moving the carrier off the coast of the Korean Peninsula follows the Tuesday launch of a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile over the Japanese home islands — the first test since 2017. The suspected Hwasong-12 missile flew about 2,800 miles and landed in the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and Japanese officials said yesterday.

The confirmation of the carrier move to USNI News by U.S. follows an early morning announcement from the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“[USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)] is scheduled to deploy again today — Wednesday, October — to the high seas of the East Sea,” reads a translation of the statement — referring the Sea of Japan as the East Sea — obtained by USNI News on Wednesday.
“The redeployment of the carrier strike group on the Korean Peninsula is very unusual and demonstrates the resolute will of the RoK-U.S. alliance, to strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance’s readiness posture against successive North Korean provocations and to respond decisively to any provocations and threats from North Korea.”

The move of Reagan follows two show of force flights from U.S., Korean and Japanese fighters on Tuesday immediately after the missile launch, USNI News reported

Earlier this week, Reagan was operating east of Japan after drilling with Japanese and Republic of Korea warships late last month, according to USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

A South Korean reprisal launch with its own Hyumoo-2 ballistic missile failed on Wednesday with the missile crashing inside an RoK air force base near the city of Gangneung, reported The Associated Press.

U.S. Marine F-35Bs, Japanese Fighters Fly Show of Force Mission Following North Korean Missile Test

Eleven U.S. and Japanese fighters flew a show of force mission over the Sea of Japan following a North Korean missile test over the Japanese home islands, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday. A combined force of seven Japanese Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-15J and F-2 Fighters flew with four U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II […]

Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II fighters conducted a bilateral exercise with Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15 and F-2 fighters over the Sea of Japan. US INDO-PACOM Photo

Eleven U.S. and Japanese fighters flew a show of force mission over the Sea of Japan following a North Korean missile test over the Japanese home islands, a Pentagon spokesman said on Tuesday.

A combined force of seven Japanese Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-15J and F-2 Fighters flew with four U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters over the Sea of Japan following North Korea’s Tuesday test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

“Our ability to work and fight and deter alongside our partners is critical in terms of deterrence, demonstrating that we do have the capability to fight together when and if we need to,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
“These exercises are an opportunity for our military members to work together to exercise those capabilities to one: send a message that we are prepared, and two: that if we need to fight, we can and we can do it together.”

The missile flew a provocative flight path over the Japanese home islands before splashing down in the Pacific. The launch was the first North Korean missile test over Japan since 2017 and prompted warnings for residents on the island of Hokkaido and the Aomori prefecture, Japanese officials said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters the missile was launched from the Jagang Province and may have been a Hwasong-12, reported Reuters.

In addition to the combined Japanese and U.S. Marine Corps flight, four U.S. Air Force F-16s and four Republic of Korea F-15Ks flew a separate presence mission over the West Sea.

According to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the exercise “showcased the combined deterrent and dynamic strike capabilities while demonstrating our nation’s bilateral interoperability. During the exercise they conducted a live Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) strike in the Jikdo Range.”

The two exercises are the latest uptick of U.S. military operations in the region since Pyongyang resumed missile tests in the last several weeks.

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group completed a round of large-scale naval exercises with Japan and South Korea last week.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) drilled in the East China Sea with Korean destroyers and then in the Sea of Japan with a combined Korean and Japanese force in the Sea of Japan.

As of Monday, the strike group was in the Pacific “just to the east of northern Japan,” according to Monday’s USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

Ryder would not say if Reagan would return closer to South Korea and the Sea of Japan when asked by reporters on Tuesday. In terms of future tests, Ryder warned North Korea of conducting future missile or nuclear tests.

“There have been indications in the past that [North Korea] is preparing a test site for what would be its seventh nuclear test,” Ryder said. “If they do such a test — from our perspective — it would clearly constitute a grave escalatory action,” Ryder said.
“We continue to work with our Republic of Korea and Japanese partners for all contingencies and again, we’re calling the DPRK to cease these types of destabilizing and unlawful actions.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth Departs U.K. to Sub for Damaged HMS Prince of Wales in East Coast Tour

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) set sail for the U.S. on Wednesday while its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (R09) prepares for a major repair to its propulsion system, the U.K. Royal Navy announced. Ahead of a planned European deployment, Queen Elizabeth will step in for some of the stops for Prince […]

HMS Queen Elizabeth sails from Portsmouth on Sept. 7, 2022. UK Royal Navy Photo

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) set sail for the U.S. on Wednesday while its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (R09) prepares for a major repair to its propulsion system, the U.K. Royal Navy announced.

Ahead of a planned European deployment, Queen Elizabeth will step in for some of the stops for Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy said.

“In the coming months, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the heart of a powerful task group made up of thousands of sailors, up to ten ships, F-35B Lightning [II] jets, helicopter squadrons and Royal Marines Commandos which will operate across Europe this autumn,” reads a statement from the Royal Navy.
“But the aircraft carrier will first deploy to the East Coast of the United States to undertake parts of HMS Prince of Wales’ deployment – as her sister ship undergoes repairs.”

Shortly after Prince of Wales left for the East Coast in late August, the carrier’s propulsion system was damaged and it limped back to port for repairs, canceling its U.S. stops that would have included F-35B qualifications and playing host for a defense conference in New York.

The Royal Navy said a connection in the starboard drive shaft that links the carrier’s prime movers to the props failed, resulting in major damage to the propulsion system.

“Royal Navy divers have inspected the starboard shaft of the ship and the adjacent areas. And they have confirmed that there is significant damage to the shaft and the propeller, and some superficial damage to the rudder, but no damage to the rest of the ship,” Royal Navy Rear Adm. Steve Moorhouse said in a video posted on Twitter last week.
“Our initial assessment has shown that a coupling which joins the final two sections of the shaft has failed. Now this is an extremely unusual fault, and we continue to pursue or repair options. We’re working to stabilize the shafts section and the propeller, after which the ship will return to Portsmouth. The ship will then probably need to enter a drydock as this will be the safest and quickest way to affect the repairs.”

The Royal Navy is now preparing to fix Prince of Wales.

Queen Elizabeth completed its inaugural deployment to the Western Pacific last year with a mixed air wing of U.K. and U.S. Marines F-35Bs and an international group of escorts to include USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) and Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805).

The next deployment will focus on Europe.

Queen Elizabeth will primarily be focused on operations in the Baltic and work closely with forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden,” reads the statement.
“Together, these nations form the U.K.-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is designed to react to crises whenever and wherever they unfold.”

USS Tripoli Arrives in Singapore as Chinese Warships Continue to Operate Near Japan

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is now docked in Singapore for a port call, having arrived at Changi Naval Base on Wednesday following an underway in the South China Sea. Tripoli‘s stop in Singapore marks its first port visit since it pulled into Naval Base White Beach, Okinawa and embarked the 31st Marine Expeditionary […]

Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) board an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) operating from amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on Aug. 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is now docked in Singapore for a port call, having arrived at Changi Naval Base on Wednesday following an underway in the South China Sea.

Tripoli‘s stop in Singapore marks its first port visit since it pulled into Naval Base White Beach, Okinawa and embarked the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit on July 25.

Prior to embarking the 31st MEU, Tripoli had been operating under the “lightning carrier” concept, in which it had more than a dozen F-35Bs aboard during its Pacific deployment. The ship is underway with Marine MV-22B Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions for the remainder of its Indo-Pacific deployment. Tripoli took part in the June Valiant Shield exercise, but has transitioned to an amphibious ready force with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) embarked. Since it began its deployment in May, Tripoli has also had a detachment of MH-60S Knight Hawks embarked from the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23.

In April, Tripoli’s then commanding officer, Capt. Joel Lang, told USNI News that for its upcoming deployment the big deck could operate either as a lightning carrier or an amphibious assault platform.

While Tripoli was in the South China Sea, closer to Japan, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface action group transited the Tsushima Strait on Tuesday into the Sea of Japan. A PLAN intelligence ship and PLAN destroyer separately transited the Miyako Strait into the Pacific on Sunday and Wednesday, according to Japan Ministry of Defense releases.

On Sunday, PLAN Dongdiao-class intelligence ship sailed southeast through the waters between Okinawa and Miyako Island into the Pacific Ocean, according to a Monday news release from the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense. The MoD said that Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Fuyuzuki (DD-118) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 operating from Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN ship.

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA 211) launches off from the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on April 2, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

On Tuesday, the JSO issued another news release stating that on Monday at 1 p.m., three PLAN ships – a destroyer, frigate and replenishment ship – were sighted 240 kilometers southwest of Tsushima. Images and hull numbers provided identified the ships as destroyer CNS Nanchang (101), frigate CNS Yancheng and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902). On Tuesday, the three ships sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan, the release said. JMSDF fast attack crafts JS Otaka (PG-826) and JS Umitaka (PG-828), along with a JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 4 operating from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu, monitored the PLAN ships.

On Wednesday, the JSO said a PLAN destroyer was sighted that morning sailing southeast in an area 93 miles north-northeast of Miyako Island. Imagery and hull number provided in the news release identified the destroyer as CNS Zibo (156), which then subsequently sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean. The PLAN ship was also monitored by a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5.

Meanwhile, in Guam, the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, the JMSDF, the Republic of Korea Navy and the United States Navy concluded exercise Pacific Vanguard 2022 on Monday. The exercise took place from Aug. 21 until Aug. 29, according to a JMSDF news release.
A U.S. 7th Fleet release said the exercise was “designed to provide training that emphasizes integrated task group maritime training and maneuver in a challenging exercise environment. It allows the U.S. and its allies to be equipped and ready to respond to crises and contingencies in a changing Indo-Pacific.”

Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata, the commander of the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) and commander of Japanese forces in the exercise said “Pacific Vanguard 2022 is a high-end exercise to operate together in high threat, complex situations in order to maintain stability and freedom of access to the oceans, and global commons. I hope this exercise will further strengthen the strong partnership among the participating countries and contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region in order to realize a free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

Japanese forces taking part in the exercise included helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183), destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), a submarine, a P-1 MPA, a UP-3D Electronic Intelligence training aircraft, and elements of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).

ARDB members, together with their U.S Marines counterparts, directed naval gunfire support from ships in the exercise, according to a JGSDF news release. U.S units in the exercise included destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52), dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE-3), an attack submarine, the 5th Air Naval Gun Liaison Company (ANGLICO) of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), a P-8 from the “Mad Foxes” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 5 and EA-18Gs from the “Start Warriors” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 209.

Destroyer HMAS Sydney (DDG42), frigate HMAS Perth (FFH157) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195), participated for the RAN, while Canadian participation included frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331). The ROKN participated with destroyers ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976) and ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991).

CNS Zibo (156). JMSDF MoD

Japan’s Izumo and Takanami form the first surface unit of the JMSDF’s IPD22 deployment, with the submarine and aircraft in Pacific Vanguard forming independent sub-units of IPD22 that would participate in some of the engagements involving the two surface units. The second surface unit is destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), which is completed a port visit on Tuesday in Noumea, French New Caledonia. Earlier, Kirisame conducted exercise Oguri-Verny 22-5 near French New Caledonia from Aug. 25-26 with French Navy offshore patrol vessel FS D’Entrecasteaux (A621) and a French Air Force Falcon 200.

Izumo, Takanami, Supply, Vancouver, Munmu the Great and Sejong the Great all took part in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise, which concluded on Aug. 4. Other ships from the Indo-Pacific region are now home or headed home from RIMPAC. Philippine Navy frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF151) arrived in Manila on Thursday, while Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) arrived home on Aug. 22. Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Lekir (FSG26) arrived at RMN Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia on Friday, but will leave for her homeport at RMN Lumut Naval Base. Meanwhile, Singapore frigate RSS Intrepid (69) is on its way home after departing Japan on Saturday.

Semper Wi-Fi: New Marine Aviation Plan Pushes Digital Connections Between Far-flung Forces

THE PENTAGON — Key to Marines’ latest aviation plan is using the service’s aircraft to keep small units spread across small islands in the Western Pacific connected through a digital interoperability as it continues its modernization efforts for a lighter, more mobile force. Following the initial iterations of the Force Design 2030 effort to modernize the […]

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft mechanic Lance Cpl. William Wiggins assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, currently attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), monitors an F-35B aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 18, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

THE PENTAGON — Key to Marines’ latest aviation plan is using the service’s aircraft to keep small units spread across small islands in the Western Pacific connected through a digital interoperability as it continues its modernization efforts for a lighter, more mobile force.

Following the initial iterations of the Force Design 2030 effort to modernize the service for its island-hopping strategy in regions like the Indo-Pacific, the Marine Corps has a plan to apply those modernization initiatives to aviation with digital links front and center.

“With respect to some of the changes you’ve seen … Force Design 2030 really drove a lot of them. And it also drove the reason why we took a couple of years off, as we started to make some adjustments in order to make sure we were articulating what Force Design was from the aviation perspective,” Lt. Gen. Mark Wise, the Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation, told reporters on Monday. “And we put that into the programmatic speak of the document itself so that as it came out, it’s as good as the day that it was signed. But things are going to evolve over time and I would expect there would be some changes to next year as we go on, as there are almost every year with a programmatic document like this.”

Wise described his vision for digital interoperability as the “ability to build our own network locally in order to push information to that squad leader, platoon leader, that’s inside the aircraft on his way to a target area. And he’s actually getting real-time [situational awareness] as to what’s happening.”

The effort is akin to the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative, for which the Navy’s contribution is the targeting network effort called Project Overmatch.

“But being able to push that information amongst a flight – whether it’s V-22s going into a target area or a much broader flight with CH-53S and KC-130Js – that was really some of the initial direction or digital interoperability. But I would tell you that it’s expanded a great deal from there,” Wise said, adding the phrase “any sensor, any shooter,” which has become a common description among Pentagon officials to describe the concept of JADC2.

“It’s a matter of pushing information – not just video, but voice, but it’s also target-quality data – from any way-form through certain gateways to end users, whether that end user is a shooter or a consumer of information. I would say all of that is part of it,” he added.

Those changes span the Marine Corps’ aviation platforms, as the service has analyzed how each type of aircraft factors into a vision for operations across a vast region like the Indo-Pacific, where Marines can operate in smaller units across islands and shorelines.

The reshaping of the Marine Corps has reached its aviation arm. In the near future, F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters will protect the Marine Littoral Regiment, armed with anti-ship missiles, while CH-53K King Stallion and MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotors join in an expansive targeting network to link units dotted across tiny islands around the world.

“There are decisions across all the type model series that would be related to Force Design. The change between 2019 and 2022 was because things were in such flux that even if I had written one, it would have changed radically by the next year,” Wise said. “There may be some changes here and there but it’s not like everything is in a state of flux right now.”

U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 24 attach a Light Armored Vehicle 25 to a CH-53K King Stallion helicopter’s lift hooks at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., on April 27, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

After several years of wargaming and experimentation, the Marine Corps has continued its pursuit of a lighter force that can operate in smaller units, setting up expeditionary bases where Marines can harrass an opposing force in ways that include firing anti-ship missiles. The aviation plan, released Tuesday, shows how the service sees each platform fitting into Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s overall vision for this strategy.

Using those platforms in a potential future conflict relies on the “digital interoperability” pursuit the Marine Corps is focused on, so Marines can pass and share information across platforms and domains in a potential conflict.

Because so much of that information filters through the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), Wise said it’s a high priority for funding.

“It’s not that everything goes perfect all the time, but with the amount of time we’ve been working on things like software reprogrammable payloads and things like that, I think we’re actually doing pretty well. I don’t see a lot of risk to getting to an end state, particularly by 2030,” he said.

Col. Craig Doty, the branch head of the Marine Corp’s Cunningham Group housed in the Marine aviation enterprise, said the service has fielded “just under” 4,500 Marine Air-Ground Tablets, known as MAGTABs.

“What we’re trying to do now is tie our tactical users to the larger pipes that we have had. So if you were to walk into a command post time now, you would see a lot of the digital interoperability. What we’re trying to do is to take that situational awareness and now take it down to the tactical suer so it’s proliferated across the battlespace,” Doty said.

Wise’s deputy, Brig. Gen. Matt Mowery, said the Marine Corps recently experimented with the digital operability concept using its H-1 helicopters on Navy ships.

“For example, we just had in December an exercise where we had some H1s operating off ships, sharing targeting data with Navy fixed-wing and Navy rotary-wing, passing that information back to a joint task force commander for then to a targeting cell via Link 16,” Mowery said. “So you know, again, it’s that inter-service, multi-platform, back to decision makers,” effort.

An AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter operated by Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Rein.) Marines, with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) await ordinance and fuel at a Forward Arming and Refueling Point on Ie Shima Island, in Okinawa Japan, Jan. 6, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

The aviation plan, which the Marine Corps usually releases yearly, includes visions for each platform, many of which have some modernization efforts under the digital interoperability pursuit.

The document also includes a firmer position on how the Marine Corps sees the F-35 fighter.

Wise pointed to the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, an F-35B squadron that deployed last year aboard United Kingdom aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth (R08) with British F-35Bs. At one point during the deployment, aircraft from Queen Elizabeth flew missions, landed on USS America (LHA-6), – which had its its own F-35Bs aboard – refueled, flew another mission and then back to the U.K. carrier, Wise said.

“The power of things that actually happened with that aircraft really emphasizes the capability it brings, the interoperability with our partners and allies because i don’t care what our future holds, we will not do any of it alone,” he added.

The next phase for the Marine Corps’ F-35 efforts includes determining whether the service is employing the aircraft correctly.

“Now what we’re trying to make sure is that our employment models are appropriate for how we’re going to employ it off the L-class ships as well as off of TACAIR integration, flying with the Navy. We’re on our first deployment with them right now,” Wise said.

Marines assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) disembark from the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) on MV-22B Ospreys, attached to the ‘Blue Knights’ of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 365 (Reinforced), from the ship’s flight deck on July 13, 2020. US Navy Photo

The “Black Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314 are currently deployed aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), which this week is operating in the Philippine Sea.

The service is standing up its first F-35 squadrons on the West Coast for three reasons, Wise said, for supply chain purposes, because the Navy needs to modify the LHA and LHD flight decks so they can accommodate the heat that comes off the F-35s, and due to the Pentagon’s emphasis on the Indo-Pacific in the National Defense Strategy. The new CH-53K King Stallion squadrons will transition on the East Coast first, so not to put too much pressure on the West Coast squadrons.

As for other aviation capabilities, the Marines are also pursuing ways to meet sustainment problems when performing distributed operations in a large region like the Indo-Pacific. The service is looking at unmanned assets like the Unmanned Logistics System Airborne – Large to fill this gap.

“So if I’m going to have challenges with manned assault support platforms – having enough to get to these individual spots – and I might want to focus where the manned missions are going, having an unmanned capability to help expand my reach and to also increase the tempo of my reach, that’s what we’re looking at with ULSA – Large,” Wise said.

A MV-22B Osprey, assigned to the Blue Knights of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 365 (Reinforced) prepares to take off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) on Oct. 15, 2019. US Navy Photo

This offensive air support capability could be another tier for the Marine Corps’ Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Expeditionary program, also known as MUX.

The ULSA Large would have a 1,000 to 3,000 payload and could help the Marine Corps’ smaller units that are operating across large distances, according to Wise. The autonomy technology for this type of capability is “fairly mature” and some systems the defense industry has put forward for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) family of systems program could fit the ULSA need, Wise said.

“So there are mature capabilities being developed that we can leverage – in some of the research that [has] be done up to date – that are already designed to be unmanned, some of them optionally manned – that would allow us to build up that capability as one of the MUX tiers in order to get after some of the assault support capacity challenges that we will have if anything were to happen out in the Pacific.”

The Marine Corps is now pursuing a family of systems approach for what it’s calling MUX/MALE, or the medium-altitude long-endurance system. MUX is broken into several tiers, with the MQ-9A Reaper as the first tier for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Other potential missions for the MQ-9A include communications, electronic warfare and airborne early warning, Wise said.

USS Tripoli Quietly Leaves on Maiden Deployment

THE PENTAGON — Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) departed Naval Station San Diego, Calif., on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on Monday, USNI News has learned. The 45,000-ton big-deck amphibious ship left San Diego to gather F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters that will include further testing of the Marine’s “lightning carrier” […]

USS Tripoli (LHA-7) departs Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., April 7, 2022. US Navy Photo

THE PENTAGON — Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) departed Naval Station San Diego, Calif., on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on Monday, USNI News has learned.

The 45,000-ton big-deck amphibious ship left San Diego to gather F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters that will include further testing of the Marine’s “lightning carrier” concept, a defense official confirmed to USNI News. The lightning carrier can load up to 20 of the short take-off, vertically landing F-35s as an adjunct capability to a carrier strike group, USNI News understands.

A U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman confirmed to USNI News the big-deck left San Diego on Monday, but did not provide additional details on the deployment.

Tripoli’s departure comes just less than a month after the ship wrapped up a week of at-sea testing and training to prove the lightning carrier concept.

Operating off Southern California, Tripoli took on at one point 20 F-35Bs, marking a major milestone in seeing how many of the fighters the Navy and Marine Corps could operate aboard the ship at one time. The F-35s came from three Marine Corps squadrons, officials said. They included the “Vikings” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225 and the “Wake Island Avengers” of VMFA-211, both based at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ariz., and Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, based at Yuma and New River, N.C. The advanced, multi-mission F-35Bs are replacing the Marine Corps’ older F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jets.

Navy officials have said little about what it plans to do with Tripoli following the recent at-sea training. Other big-deck amphibious assaults ships usually train and deploy as part of a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group that deploys with 2,200-member Marine Expeditionary Units, with their large well-decks supporting waterborne craft that provide significant Marine Corps capability in littoral operations. Tripoli, however, was designed to support air operations, centered around the F-35B.

“We refer to the ship as ‘assault carrier 7.’ And assault is traditional for an LHD, LHA,” Capt. Joel Lang, the ship’s commander, said during an April 3 media event aboard Tripoli. “We have the space for a battalion landing team, we have about 1,000 infantrymen. And typically the air combat element is a blend of rotary and tilt-rotor in order to enable that assault force to go ashore. What we’re doing right now is lightning carrier, and we are proving the operational concept. … We are proving the tactics and the techniques and the procedures to employ the lightning carrier concept.”

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 lands on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on April 1, 2022. US Navy Photo

When asked what the plans are for Tripoli once the training was completed, Lang said, “I’m going to get ready to go over the horizon, and then be prepared to be tasked with one of those two concepts, and then offer the Navy and the Marine Corps, we have a relevant option – you’ve got two of them – and then just based on where we go in the world, what that contingency op is, they can employ one of those two concepts. So when we get home, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get ready to go over the horizon and be prepared to do one of these two once we get on the other side of the Earth.”

The arrival of Tripoli and a force of F-35Bs won’t in any way displace the MEU, but will give regional commanders new options, said Col. Chad Vaughn, commander of Marine Aircraft Group 13.

“This is just an option… for contingency operations,” said Vaughn, a veteran F/A-18 pilot who was among the first ones to transition to the F-35B. “This ship just gives you an option.”

“We’re not an aircraft carrier,” he said of Tripoli. “We are an LHA that is very uniquely suited to aviation operations – whether that’s an assault or in this case, a lightning carrier. The traditional carrier has capabilities that are unique that we do not. … We do some unique things that we can help out the joint task force or the combatant commander and do unique things to help out those CVNs and help out the Marine commander on the ground, whoever it is. We have some unique capabilities, especially when you put 20 F-35s on here.”

It’s unclear if Tripoli will transit the Pacific with additional amphibs, but it’s time in the Western Pacific comes as the Navy’s other aircraft-centric amphib – USS America (LHA-6) – is currently in a maintenance availability, USNI News understands.

Marines Load Record 16 F-35Bs Aboard USS Tripoli Test of ‘Lightning Carrier’ Concept

ABOARD THE AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP USS TRIPOLI — The Marines broke a record on Sunday when they loaded the most 16 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters ever aboard a big-deck amphibious warship. Under cloudy skies on Sunday afternoon, deck sailors directed Marine pilots onto launching spots and maneuvered others into parking spots on the […]

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA 211) launches off from the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on April 2, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

ABOARD THE AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP USS TRIPOLI — The Marines broke a record on Sunday when they loaded the most 16 F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters ever aboard a big-deck amphibious warship.

Under cloudy skies on Sunday afternoon, deck sailors directed Marine pilots onto launching spots and maneuvered others into parking spots on the flight deck USS Tripoli (LHA-7), the Navy’s newest big deck amphibious warship, with more coming later this week.

The fighters belong to two operational squadrons — the “Vikings” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 and the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, both based at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ariz. – and to Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, based at Yuma and New River, N.C. The Marine Corps is fielding the advanced, multi-mission aircraft to replace its older F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier jets.

But bringing more than a dozen of the F-35B jets aboard Tripoli for flight operations – a number that could grow to 18 or 20 this week – along with 500 Marines isn’t just about breaking records and a photo opportunity, military officials told USNI News.

Rather, the week-long MAG-13 training event with Tripoli is the start of identifying and building capabilities for the big deck and its crew and for Marines and their jets to conduct integrated MAG-level operations at sea, something that hasn’t been done in a generation.

“The way we’ve fought over the last 20 years obviously has been a different model. There have been a lot of different squadrons doing a lot of things in the Middle East as needed, as directed,” said Col. Chad A. Vaughn, commander of Marine Aircraft Group 13, based at Yuma.

But adversaries in today’s existing threat and the future fight are much more capable in the air than any the U.S. military, and aviators specifically, have faced in the past. Squadrons must be capable of fighting in more and larger higher-level joint operations, officials say.
The last time MAG-13 fought as an air group was 2003.

“It requires a skill set that we just haven’t practiced as much,” Vaughn said Sunday afternoon aboard Tripoli, speaking with Capt. Joel Lang, the ship’s commander.
Last October, MAG-13 deployed squadrons in a desert integrated field exercise at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. It was “an opportunity to learn for a MAG headquarters how to fight from the land,” Vaughn said. “This opportunity arose, in conjunction with operational tests, to put a number of F-35s, as many as we could safely put on here, and [it] simultaneously opened up a training event for us to train our MAG pilots and our MAG headquarters on how to fight from the sea.”

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 lands on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on April 1, 2022. US Navy Photo

Like its smaller, by-name predecessor, a former helicopter assault carrier, the America-class Tripoli lacks a well deck but is designed to conduct and support Marine Corps air operations. The ship has larger fuel storage and more weapons magazines than the existing LHD class of big-deck amphibious ships, as well as advanced command, control and communications systems.
“We’re looking at options that could potentially … be provided to the joint force commander and the MEF commander to put more aircraft on this ship. The ship is uniquely suited, obviously, for aircraft operations,” Vaughn said.

The “Lightning Carrier” concept has been tossed about for years by Marines and the F-35 program office. “It just worked out perfectly with the opportunity for us to practice and train with the MAG,” Vaughn said, adding that operational testers with VMX-1 are aboard Tripoli this week evaluating lessons learned from the F-35B operations.

The concept takes a page from history. In the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) were dubbed the “Harrier carriers,” each supporting two squadrons of AV-8B Harrier attack jets for Commander Task Force 51 as U.S. and combined forces pushed toward Baghdad. The ships at the time typically had a detachment of Harriers among an aircraft mix composed largely of Marine Corps helicopters.

The at-sea exercise has been in the works for six months. Lang, a surface warfare officer who’s commanded Tripoli since September 2020, said he and MAG-13 agreed to turn the training into something of an operational rehearsal for the ship’s crew of 1,100 and his staff, working together to determine not just what is the maximum jets the ship could support but what is the “optimum” number from an operational mindset.

“It has to be what works best, so when we put them in the operational environment, it is the most efficient way to employ this capability,” Lang said. “The team is so fired up to be a part of optimizing the most lethal at-sea force.”

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) steams through the Pacific Ocean while conducting flight operations as part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Lightning carrier concept demonstration on April 2, 2022. US Navy Photo

The week-long event, slated to wrap up Thursday, is about putting MAG Marines and Tripoli sailors through the paces in launching, recovering, moving, maneuvering and working on the F-35B jets aboard the ship. “We’re learning how to fight as a MAG. How do we operate the deck? How do we not lock his deck up with all these airplanes out here?” Vaughn said.

Questions remain how the Lightning Carrier concept will operate in the fleet without a capability to tank F-35Bs organically or without airborne early warning aircraft like the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aboard. USNI News understands that there is set to be broader testing with the concept later this year.

“Our goal,” Vaughn added, is that “if the Navy and Marine Corps team decides that this is an option at some point, here’s the playbook that we’ve developed.”

Navy, Marines Drill with Japanese Forces in Test of New Island-Hopping Concept

The U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and Japanese Self-Defense Force teamed up in the Philippine and East China seas to test the ideas behind the Marines’ Force Design 2030 plan. Noble Fusion, held in early February, tested the Marines’ island-hopping concept with allies. “Noble Fusion allowed us to showcase our interoperability and to validate Force […]

Ships of the America and Essex Amphibious Ready Groups, and Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, sail in formation with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force during exercise Noble Fusion on Feb. 7, 2022. US Navy Photo

The U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and Japanese Self-Defense Force teamed up in the Philippine and East China seas to test the ideas behind the Marines’ Force Design 2030 plan.

Noble Fusion, held in early February, tested the Marines’ island-hopping concept with allies.

“Noble Fusion allowed us to showcase our interoperability and to validate Force Design 2030 initiatives in our Corps’ main-effort theatre at a scale not seen since 2018,” Col. Michael Nakonieczny, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, told reporters.
The exercise “set conditions for the next large-scale exercise that will allow us to rehearse our response to any crisis or conflict, at an ever increasing scale.”

The drills serve as a prelude to a larger scale exercise between U.S and Japanese forces scheduled to take place in Japan later this year.

Navy Capt. Greg Baker, Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 11, said that he and Nakonieczny were studying how their forces would operate and use their personnel and equipment in unique ways. “We’ll try different things, we’ll try different ways of employing the equipment that we have, of employing the personnel that we have and mixing our teams up as best as we can,” he said, giving the example of Marine personnel working together with Navy systems and vice versa, both ashore and at sea.

A U.S. Marine Corps High Mobility Artillery Rocket System with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), rehearses a firing mission during a security screen at Kin Blue, Okinawa, Japan, Feb. 9, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

One area is exploration is fires integration, not only between Navy and Marine Corps units and assets, but also with partner nations. During Noble Fusion, Commander Task Force 76, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Kongo (DDG-173), 31st MEU Marines operating from a simulated Expeditionary Advanced Base and aircraft from carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) participated in a simulated practice strike.

USS Dewey (DDG-105) was assigned as the oppositional force for the simulated strike while an E-2D Hawkeye from Abraham Lincoln served as the Maritime Air Controller. A P-8A Poseidon, assigned to Task Force 72, provided real-time targeting data to Kongo, the EAB, and F/A-18E Super Hornets that launched from Abraham Lincoln. Baker said that the land-based EAB served an extension of the naval forces. In conjunction with the new Marine warfare concept, the EABs are designed to be quickly assembled ground bases that serve as a sensor and a rearming, refueling and resupply node for allied forces, as well as a launching point for strikes.

“We could treat that EAB essentially like a destroyer. We could find a maritime target to go after and we could have multiple units engage that target from a destroyer or do that from an EAB by passing targeting data, as well as aircraft from land or ships. The ability to strike in the maritime is strengthened by the EAB,” Baker said.

Another use of the EABs was as refueling assets. “We’ve worked with not just refueling Marine Corps assets, but we’ve also worked with refueling joint assets and we’ve been working towards expanding that capability,” Baker said. During Noble Fusion, 11th MEU Marines from amphibious warship USS Essex (LHD-2) refueled a P-8A Poseidon in a simulated foward landing zone at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa.

Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), left, transits the Philippine Sea with fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) in support of Noble Fusion, Feb. 4, 2022. U.S. Navy PhotoCol. Michael Brennan, the operations officer for 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, told USNI News separately that the participation of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in Noble Fusion presented an opportunity for CSG 3 and the Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Expeditionary Units to work together to rehearse a distributed command and control architecture from multiple locations, as well as coordinate aviation operations across hundreds of miles of littoral geography in the first island chain.

Lessons learned from Noble Fusion included better understanding of the coordination required to operate two MEUs/ARGs alongside a CSG at sea, how to integrate aviation operations, how to synchronize aviation strikes involving multiple multi-domain platforms, how to coordinate the defense of the amphibious task force with a carrier strike group and JMSDF assets, and how to integrate U.S. Air Force assets along with Navy and Marine Corps aviation elements.

Expeditionary Sea Base USS Miguel Keith (ESB-5), which is currently serving as the command platform for CTF 76 and Expeditionary Strike Group 7, also participated in the exercise. The Navy has been experimenting in recent years with the use of alternate command ship platforms in the Indo-Pacific, other than the lead ships of its task groups and USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19). But these experimentations geared toward specific focus missions, like the use of the Expeditionary Fast Transports for operations and engagements with regional nations. During Noble Fusion, Miguel Keith also served as a training platform for visit board, search and seizure (VBSS) training by 31st MEU Marines.

During the exercise, CTF76/ESG7 executed command and control of the composite task force from Miguel Keith. Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 and Naval Special Warfare groups have also used Miguel Keith for command and control while in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

During the call, officials said a larger exercise between U.S. and Japanese forces, called Maritime Defense Exercise-Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (MDX – ARDB) will take place later this year in Japan. Both Nakonieczny and Baker declined to confirm specific dates for the drills, but said they were looking foward to the exercise, which would be on a much larger scale than Noble Fusion and enable them to further develop joint operations with Japan’s military.

“I want more exercises and more capabilities added and involved to these exercises,” said Nakonieczny.

First Sea Lord: U.K. Royal Navy Will Keep Persistent Presence in Pacific

The U.K. Royal Navy is returning to its historic persistent presence in the Indo-Pacific while at the same time ensuring its stature as the foremost navy in Europe, according to the United Kingdom’s senior naval officer. Speaking Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff […]

An F-35B Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Wake Island Avengers’ of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VFMA) 211, launches from the flight deck of U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), while the ship steams alongside Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), and Japan Maritime Self- Defense Force Izumo-class helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH-184), as the ships transit the Bay of Bengal as part of Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX), Oct. 17, 2021. US Navy Photo

The U.K. Royal Navy is returning to its historic persistent presence in the Indo-Pacific while at the same time ensuring its stature as the foremost navy in Europe, according to the United Kingdom’s senior naval officer.

Speaking Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Adm Ben Key, said by “persistent” he means a “reliable” presence of two patrol craft and longer, larger deployments. The goal is “building more profound relationships” with other nations in the Indo-Pacific, he added.

The Royal Navy “will be listening humbly” to what others have to say on their needs, he said.“After all, it’s their waters,” he said, and when asked the Royal Navy can provide leadership in meeting their needs to counter an aggressive and bullying China.

Key said exercising in the Indo-Pacific with the United States, France, Japan, New Zealand and Australia and NATO allies like the Netherlands is deterring Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea. It also tests the interoperability of naval forces addressing common threats that include China’s naval militias encroaching on other nations’ exclusive economic zones, which are vital for fisheries.

The Indo-Pacific “was an area [Britain] knew well,” dating from Captain James Cook’s explorations of those waters in the 18th century and the realization now of its importance to the continued free flow of trade in the 21st century, Key said.

“We’re going to have to [protect trade and national sovereignty] in partnerships” with the United States and other allies, he said.

He said the same rationale applied to Russia, which has been trying to close off the Black Sea to other nations as it ratchets up pressure on Ukraine. “We need to respond to that,” he said. “The high seas by their very nature are open to everybody … going about our own lawful activity.”

Key added, “we have a right to protect ourselves” by closely monitoring Russian naval activities in United Kingdom waters.

Adm. Ben Key became the nation’s most senior sailor aboard flagship HMS Victory. Royal Navy Photo

“I’ve been challenged by the government to grow the Navy,” he said. That includes fielding the first two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and Prince of Wales (R09), designed and built for fifth-generation aircraft operations. On the deployment of the Queen Elizabeth II Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21), he said, “we tested ourselves across all three theaters” successfully.

He called the two carriers “such a step up” for the Royal Navy.

Key, who took the role in November, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government recognized the “increasing importance of being able [to deploy] across the global commons … to achieve what we want to” as a nation. He said it also was a turn away from the counterterrorist land campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq of the past 20 years.

When asked about the Australia-United Kingdom-United States agreement to share technology and eventually to have Canberra field nuclear-powered submarines, Key said the pact was “a really good example of opening up [by sharing critical technologies such as undersea battlespace] rather than closing down.”

Key said that he was proud to be “part of a service that embraced innovation,” like steam over sail and exploring autonomous systems today. But after 38 years in uniform, he realizes that the career path he chose is not as appealing to possible recruits and officers. He said there needed to be a mechanism for those who want to serve for a time, leave the Royal Navy, and return without having to start over again as a midshipman.

“The Royal Navy is brimming with ideas,” he said. It has a force full of “energy, [with] entrepreneurial spirit” that needs opportunities to grow. This openness in the Royal Navy to adapt to change and meet individuals’ expectations also makes it a more attractive choice for young men and women beginning their careers.