The Wasp, an Amphibious Assault Ship and lead ship of her class, doesn’t have quite as much surface area for jets to take off and land as the larger Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, but the ship will still bring a new squadron of carrier-compatible F-35B aircraft to the 7th Fleet’s area of operations.
The F-35B jets have the AV-8B Harrier’s capability of taking off vertically, as a helicopter does, while also being able to operate in the air like fighter jets.
Placing the Amphibious Assault Ship in proximity to the Korean Peninsula “ensured that our most technologically-advanced air warfare platforms are forward deployed,” USS Wasp Cmdr. Andrew Smith said in an August 30 release.
“Our capabilities, paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, increases our Navy’s precision strike capabilities within the 7th Fleet region,” Smith said. “Wasp will help America’s commitment to maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”
The Wasp inserts a second squadron of F-35s into the region. The first arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Okinawa in March, the eight-plane squadron’s new permanent home. Another cadre of Joint Strike Fighters arrived in July, the Marine Corps said.
Up to 100 F-35 aircraft are set to fly near the Korean Peninsula over the coming years, as Seoul and Tokyo have each agreed to buy more than 40 of them from Lockheed Martin.