The US Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) has completed a series of flight operations with the F-35B Lightning II multirole fighter jet.
The aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) initially landed on the deck of the navy ship on 5 March and has since conducted a series of landing and take-off activities, both during the day and at night.
LHD 1 and the aircraft carried out the trial programme in order to enhance the proficiency of both the pilots and the flight deck crew to operate the fighter jet at sea.
USS Wasp commanding officer captain Colby Howard said: “We have taken a giant step forward in the full operational deployment of the F-35B, and we’re looking forward to continuing our integration with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).”
USS Wasp has arrived in the White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan, following the completion of the flight operations.
The vessel is now set to embark more than 1,500 marines from the Okinawa-based 31st MEU to serve simultaneously as part of a regularly scheduled Indo-Pacific patrol mission.
US Marine Corps (USMC) 31st MEU commanding officer colonel Tye R Wallace said: “The 31st MEU is excited to train on this historic deployment.
“The new F-35B Lightning II is a great addition to the team. It’s a flexible aircraft, which is what the 31st MEU is all about.
“We’re always prepared and can adapt to any situation.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter jet, which is capable of carrying out several operations such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and electronic attack missions.