The Taiwan issue is part of the conflict between the U.S. and China. If a war broke out in the Taiwan Strait, U.S. Navy and Air Force would join in to protect the island. 

According to Business Insider, U.S.’s Naval Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted an event in October. Joining the event, the head of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas talked about one way the Navy is increasing its firepower in the area.

Over the summer, the Navy and Marine Corps tested the “Lighting Carrier” concept. This idea uses amphibious assault ships stocked with F-35B fighter jets to spread power over a wider area.

The USS Tripoli is an amphibious assault ship that can carry Marines, helicopters, and vertical-takeoff aircraft. For several months this year, it sailed with more than a dozen F-35Bs, acting like a light aircraft carrier rather than a standard amphibious ship.

Light aircraft carriers can carry 20 jets, while fleet carriers can carry 50. However, light aircraft carriers cost less and can be more adaptable. 

Head of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, is in charge of U.S. Navy operations in the western Pacific. He said that Tripoli’s commanding officer calls the ship’s configuration an “assault carrier” instead of a “lighting carrier.”

Talking about the lightning carrier, Thomas said:

“One day you can have F-35Bs on the flight deck. The next day you can have MV-22s and you can be putting Marines at the shore, and so it just is a very versatile instrument.”

Thomas also said that in this lighting-carrier configuration, an amphibious assault ship has more power than the two aircraft carriers China has.

“I will note that LHA with 14 F-35Bs is much more capable than either of the PRC’s current carriers, both from a sortie-creation perspective as well as just a sheer capability.”

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