Naval Air: December 8, 2002

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The U.S. Navy version of the new F-35 light bomber will replace the current vertical take off Harrier aircraft. But the F-35 is a larger than the Harrier and won't operate effectively from the current helicopter carriers. So the U.S. Navy is proposing that the a new class of amphibious ships (like their predecessors, small helicopter carriers), will be about 10 feet wider than the current "Wasp" class helicopter carriers and thus able to carry some twenty F-35s. Existing helicopter carriers will only be able to handle 8-12 F-35s. The new design would be relatively cheap, as it would use the existing design, but with the addition of two sections (one 56 feet long and another 21 feet long) and a widening of the flight deck. This would save about a billion dollars per new ship. The new "Wasps" would still cost some $3 billion each to build and weigh in at nearly 50,000 tons (about half the weight of the navy's large carriers, but twice the weight of the average World War II carrier.)

 


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