Deploying ships and aircraft of the strike group include: USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); nine squadrons of CVW-2; staffs of CSG 1 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1; Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57); and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers of DESRON 1, which include USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and USS Stockdale (DDG 106).
CVW-2 consists of an F-35C squadron, the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147; three F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons, the “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2, the “Stingers” of VFA-113, and the “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192; the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, operating the EA-18G Growler; the “Black Eagles” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 113, operating the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye; the “Titans” of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, operating the CMV-22B Osprey; the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, operating the MH-60S Seahawk; and the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, operating the MH-60R Seahawk.
Less than a year ago, the strike group’s flagship, Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), completed a 17-month maintenance period and retrofit, during which the ship underwent a complete restoration and system retrofit to accommodate F-35C Lightning II mission capabilities.
For the first time, there are no C-2A Greyhound aboard the carrier. The so-called “Carrier Onboard Delivery” (COD) mission will be fulfilled by two CMV-22B Osprey.
The U.S. Navy’s F-35C achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in March 2019. The F-35C is the latest fixed-wing aircraft addition to U.S. Navy’s Carrier Air Wing. With its stealth technology, state-of-the-art avionics, advanced sensors, weapons capacity and range, the aircraft carrier-based F-35C provides unprecedented air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses and close-air-support as well as advanced command and control functions through fused sensors. These state-of-the art capabilities provide pilots and combatant commanders unrivaled battlespace awareness and lethality. The F-35C is the final U.S. Joint Strike Fighter variant to declare IOC and follows the USAF’s F-35A and USMC’s F-35B.
The program of record calls for 273 F-35C aircraft to be delivered to the U.S. Navy. Ship activations will start with:
- USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
- USS George Washington (CVN-73)
The CMV-22B is designed to carry up to 6,000 pounds of cargo and/or personnel and operate up to a range of 1,150 nautical miles. One of the reasons the Navy selected the V-22 airframe to serve in the COD role is because of its ability to carry the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine power module used by the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
Other features of the CMV-22 include a beyond-line-of-sight, high-frequency radio system, and internal public-address system to communicate with passengers, and an improved lighting system to assist with cargo loading.
The Navy’s program of record is to acquire 48 aircraft across all VRM squadrons to serve as replacements for the venerable C-2A Greyhound, which has been fulfilling the COD role since 1966. Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30 “Titans,” based on the West Coast of the United States, took possession of its first CMV-22B this summer, and is scheduled to field the Ospreys on its first operational detachment aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) later next year.
Video: Our interview on the CMV-22B with Bell Helicopters during Sea Air Space 2021