The issue with landing ships in the United States is quite acute. In order for the reader to better understand the essence of the problem, it is worth explaining. Congress and the Pentagon do not like the Marine Corps because, according to American law, the president has the right to use the Marine Corps at his own discretion, without the approval of Congress. Congressmen really don’t like this, which is why the Marines are always kept “in black”; they almost always receive weapons and equipment last.
The situation is similar with landing ships. The corps commander demands more landing ships, the admirals are against it, because the construction of the UDC “takes” money from others naval programs. The Navy wants to retire the two older Islands because they're about 40 years old, but Congress won't allow them because there's nothing to replace them with.
The eighth ship of the San Antonio class is still stuck. The construction of the "America" series is also proceeding with great difficulty. These ships should immediately replace two types, “Iwo Jima” and “Tarawa,” which have already been withdrawn from service. However, in addition to political and financial, there are also technical difficulties. Admirals and generals will not decide on the functionality, and therefore the design of the ship.
The first two ships, "America" and "Tripoli", conventionally Flight 0, were built without docking chambers to provide more space for aviation и
Marine Corps l/s. However, practice has shown that they are needed, and the third ship, Bougainville, Flight 1, is being built with a docking chamber. "Fallujah" accordingly, too. Both pilots and marines do not like this, because they had to reduce the volume of the corps that was allocated for their needs. The standard landing capacity was reduced from 1686 to 1462 people. The more compact Iwo Jima could carry 1800 Marines when overloaded. The Marine Corps does not like this situation because it requires more ships to transport an expeditionary battalion.
Aviators are not happy about the reduction in the amount of aviation fuel due to the installation of ballast tanks to fill the dock chamber. Less powerful gas turbine engines were installed, the maximum speed was reduced to 21 knots. Although, for the convenience of the air group, a third, deck lift is installed on the Fallujah, in contrast to the two onboard on the first three ships. It is assumed that these ships will be able to perform the functions of a light aircraft carrier, the number of F-35s will be increased to 20. But, as already mentioned, the small amount of jet fuel, further reduced on the third and fourth ships, makes such use unlikely. The F-35 in vertical takeoff and landing mode consumes jet fuel in huge quantities. True, the designers claim that on the Bougainville and Fallujah, by lengthening the flight deck, horizontal takeoff is possible, but at the expense of some reduction in fuel or fuel.
A total of 12 ships of this type are planned to be built. However, the program is already very far behind schedule. “America” was supposed to go into operation in 2012, but this happened only in 2014. For “Tripoli” the situation became even worse; according to the plan, it was supposed to “become operational” in 2017, but this happened in 2020. As for the Bougainville, the situation worsened even more: it was supposed to be handed over to the fleet in 2019, but it was only laid down in 2019. “Fallujah” was also supposed to be laid in 2019, but this happened only now. Although the hull is already at a fairly high degree of readiness, the state of the ship’s other systems is not known. Average cost: $2,4 billion. Although taking into account inflation and the rise in cost of systems and weapons, the cost will rise.