The U.S.S. Wasp (LHD-1), an amphibious assault ship, arrived in Sasebo, Japan this morning carrying F-35B Joint Strike Fighters for the first time on deployment.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the Navy, and an exciting time for Wasp and her crew, given the wide variety of missions we have the opportunity to support,” Wasp’s Command Master Chief Gregory Carlson said in the Navy release.
Previously, the Wasp and other ships in the same class carried helicopters, MV-22 Ospreys and AV-8B Harrier Jump Jets. Upgrades to the ship now allow it to carry the next generation F-35B.
Amphibious assault ship #USSWasp arrives in her new homeport, Sasebo, Japan and relieves #USSBonhommeRichard as the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations https://t.co/F4p8cwQ2qZ pic.twitter.com/Mk97yCWVCf
— DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) January 14, 2018
“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,” Capt. Colby Howard, Wasp commanding officer, said in a Navy release. “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.”
The Wasp’s arrive is part of a long-planned homeport swap with the USS Bonhomme Richard scheduled to head to San Diego after it’s current patrol.
Tests of F-35B fighters launching and landing on shorter deck assault ships were carried out on the USS America (LHA-6) in late 2016.
The deployment of the F-35 as a frontline fighter jet has not come without controversy. In 2015, the ultra-modern combat aircraft was bested in aerial combat by F-15 and F-16 jets designed in the 60’s and 70’s. The F-35 can fly in ways not familiar to FA-18, F-15 and F-16 pilots. Pilot training was done to emphasize the different techniques and engineers tweaked the aircraft’s flight systems based on pilot feedback. The 2016 Red Alert combat simulation proved the F-35 a dominant player in 21st-century air combat.