THE NAVY'S NEWEST FLATTOP CAN'T DECIDE WHAT THE HELL IT IS [USS AMERICA LHA-6]

the USS America LHA-6, the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name and the first in a new class of amphibious assault ships that are really more like aircraft carriers, yet somehow, compromised as both. Although her maiden voyage — a delivery cruise from Louisiana to her home port in San Diego — went well, the America Class remains a controversial defense program that is tied directly to two of the most controversial defense programs of all time. Those being V-22 Osprey and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The America Class, although based largely on the final Wasp Class vesselUSS Makin Island LHD-8and slightly larger by displacement, greatly differs from it and recent big deck 'amphib' designs of last few decades in one major way. Recent big deck amphibious assault ships, such as the Tarawa and WaspClasses, are as much floating docks as they are aircraft carriers, with huge hangar-like floodable garages located on their sterns. These "well decks" are where everything from small boats to massive Land Craft Air Cushion hovercraft operate from. The new America Class on the other hand was designed without this key feature, instead her focus will be on aviation, specifically the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and the MV-22B Osprey.

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