Changing the Face of Aviation

Joint amphibious operations, with dispersed aviation support from short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft, will be a critical tool in countering anti-access, area-denial challenges in the Pacific, the commander of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force told reporters Friday. Exercise Ssang Yong 2014, part of a series of recent military drills between the US and South Korea, demonstrated rapid and joint amphibious assaults with allies on the Korean Peninsula. During the exercise, which concluded April 5, US Navy and US Marines, the Republic of Korea, and the Australian Army collaborated to command and control a force of some 20 ships and accompanying air assets to carry out a joint-commanded, combined amphibious assault, said Lt. Gen. John Wissler. The drill coincided with increased rocket drills in the North. In Asia, particularly, Wissler said building allied capacity in these operations is part of the solution to anti-access, area-denial problems. By practicing dispersed aviation operations, such as with the AV-8B Harrier and others to unimproved airfields, the resilience of airpower in a joint operation goes up. “You can’t target everywhere,” Wissler said, noting that when the F-35B arrives in the Pacific by 2017 distributed STOVL operations “will be expanded” in scenarios like Ssang Yong, and will “change the face of the way we employ aviation.”