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Sea Platforms

USN’s first F-35B-capable forward deployed warship arrives in Japan

14 January 2018

Key Points

  • A US Navy warship that is capable of embarking Joint Strike Fighter aircraft has arrived in Japan
  • Vessel significantly increases US military capabilities, and range of options in the Asia-Pacific region amid tensions on the Korean peninsula

The US Navy’s (USN’s) first forward-deployed warship that is capable of launching and landing F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft has arrived in Japan.

Two F-35B aircraft operating from USS 
        <I>Wasp</I>
         while the ship was undergoing an at-sea F-35 development test event. (US Navy)Two F-35B aircraft operating from USS <I>Wasp</I> while the ship was undergoing an at-sea F-35 development test event. (US Navy)

The vessel, lead Wasp-class amphibious assault ship (LHD 1), arrived in Sasebo on 14 January after a 45,000 km journey that began in Norfolk, Virginia in late August 2017. The F-35B is the US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the JSF.

Wasp will replace its sister ship, Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), which has been forward deployed in Japan since 2012. Bonhomme Richard will be relocated to San Diego where it is expected to undergo a number of re-modernisation works.

“As the first forward-deployed F-35B JSF platform, you are going to be an extremely important asset to the US 7th Fleet and the Navy/Marine Corps team,” said the USN’s chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, in a posting via his official social media channel on 15 January.

“The arrival of USS Wasp represents an increase in military capability and a commitment to our partners and allies for security and stability in the region,” added Captain Colby Howard, commanding officer of the ship, in a statement issued by the USN. “Paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, we remain ready to execute the full range of military operations from crisis response to disaster relief,” he added.

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