6 June 2030 0220 hours
“Five, four, three, two, one!”
The pilot felt the hull touch the water and adjusted the throttle as her aircraft headed toward the pitch-black cove. She had been a Marine aviator for eight years, but every time she landed, it still felt as if her seaplane were made of burlap and balsa wood, not a high-tech carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. The copilot spotted the infrared strobe through night-vision goggles and pointed out the Zodiac heading for the aircraft. Within five minutes, the squad of Marines was on board and scuttling their raft. Thirty-six hours prior, the team successfully launched stealthy antiship missiles at a People’s Liberation Army Navy Jiangdao-class corvette operating 500 nautical miles to the northwest.
The copilot sent an encrypted text confirming the pickup via burst transmission. In the passenger compartment, a flight surgeon waited to address the few medical issues that had surpassed the squad’s corpsman’s capabilities in the two months the Marines had been alone on the atoll.
1. Gen David H. Berger, USMC, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 17 July 2019, 3.
2. Berger, Commandant’s Planning Guidance, 2.
3. Berger, 11.
4. Department of the Navy, “Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment,” www.candp.marines.mil/Concepts/Subordinate-Operating-Concepts/Littoral-Operations-in-a-Contested-Environment/; Nick Oltman, “EABO Needs a New Naval Command and Control Structure,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 145, no. 5 (May 2019).
5. Department of the Navy, Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment.
6. J. Mac McClellan, “The Flying Boat Is Back,” Flying, 15 January 2010, flyingmag.com.
7. McClellan, “The Flying Boat Is Back.”
8. Mark Huber, “First New Dornier Seastar Rolls Out,” AIN Online, 13 September 2017, www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2017-09-13/first-new-dornier-seastar-rolls-out.
9. McClellan, “The Flying Boat is Back”; Huber, “First New Dornier Seastar Rolls Out.”
10. Catalina Aircraft Trust, “28-7ACF ‘Catalina II’ Next Generation Amphibious Aircraft (NGAA),” catalinaaircrafttrust.com/ngaa-catalina-ii.
11. Sue Panteny, “Lighter, Stronger,” Materials World 15, no. 3 (March 2007): 30; M. R. Edwards, “Materials for Military Helicopters,” Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers—Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Part G 216, no. 2 (2002): 85.
12. Diane Selkirk, “The Elon Musk of Airplanes: A British Columbian Bush Pilot Is Well on His Way to Owning the First All-Electric Airplane Fleet—And He’s Doing It with Decades-Old Planes,” Men’s Journal (May/June 2020): 36–37; and Kent German, “This Electric Aircraft Could Jump-Start the Future of Flight: A Seattle Company Sends the Largest Zero-Emissions Airplane Yet on Its First Flight,” C.net, 26 May 2020, www.cnet.com/news/this-electric-aircraft-could-jump-start-the-future-of-flight/.
13. Naval Surface Warfare Center: Carderock Division, Technical Report—Seaplane Economics: A Quantitative Cost Comparison of Seaplanes and Land Planes for Sea Base Operations, NSWCCD-CISD-2007/007 (August 2007).
14. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Technical Report, 26.
15. Naval Surface Warfare Center, 26.
16. William F. Trimble, Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy’s Seaplane Strike Force (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005), 95. Planning for the SSF included studying use of submerged rubber fuel caches marked with buoys.
17. Owen Gault, “The Fleet within a Fleet: Aviation Support Ships in the Cold War Navy,” Sea Classics 35, no. 2 (February 2002): 14–19.
18. Trimble, Attack from the Sea, 50–51, 103–4.
19. Christopher J. Terry, “Review of Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy’s Seaplane Striking Force by William F. Trimble,” International Journal of Maritime History 17, no. 2 (December 2005): 478.