Landing Helicopter Assault
Their purpose is to project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the amphibious ready group or expeditionary strike group. They are used to transport Fleet Marine Force personnel and equipment while operating in a deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) or Marine expeditionary brigade (MEB). They normally travel in Task Forces called Amphibious Ready Groups. These ships and their escorts are capable of anything from military landing operations to humanitarian operations.
These vessels are built with a full flight deck similar in appearance to an aircraft carrier to operate utility and attack helicopters. They can also operate tilt rotor aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey and STOVL aircraft such as the AV-8 Harrier and the F-35B Lightning II.
The Tarawa-class LHAs provided the Marine Corps with a means of ship-to-shore movement by helicopter in addition to movement by landing craft. They were the first ships designed to do both things efficiently at same time.
The first two ships of the new America class, LHA-6 and LHA-7, differ from both the older Tarawa-class LHAs and LHDs in that they will have no well deck; LHA-8 and following ships will again include well deck facilities. LHAs that contain a well deck are able to support use of Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) and other watercraft.
Three Tarawa Class LHAs were active during Operations Desert Shield/ Desert Storm. Since then LHAs have participated in US Navy operations as launch platforms for Marine Corps expeditionary forces into Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (2001/2), Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) and humanitarian support after the Tsunami in 2004. In 2004 LHAs were used to transport Marines and their equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan for combat operations.
|Tarawa-class amphibious assault ships|
|LHA-1||USS Tarawa||May 29, 1976||September 30, 2009|
|LHA-2||USS Saipan||October 15, 1977||April 20, 2007|
|LHA-3||USS Belleau Wood||September 23, 1978||October 28, 2005|
|LHA-4||USS Nassau||July 28, 1979||March 31, 2011|
|LHA-5||USS Peleliu||May 3, 1980||April 7, 2015|
|America-class amphibious assault ships|
|LHA-6||USS America||October 11, 2014||The USS America class ships replace the original five Tarawa-class LHAs.|
|LHA-7||USS Tripoli||Under construction|
- "Fact File: Amphibious Assault Ships—LHD/LHA(R)". U.S. Navy. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
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