CORRECTION: A previous version of this post had the incorrect unit number for the first Marine Fighter Attack Squadron to field F-35Bs in Japan. It’s Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) “Green Knights,” no VMFA-211.
Next year the Navy will relocate big deck amphib USS Wasp (LHD-1) from Naval Station Norfolk, Va. to a new homeport in Sasebo, Japan, U.S. Fleet Forces announced on Monday.
Wasp will replace USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) as part of the Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan. Bonhomme Richard will relocate to Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
“USS Wasp has been recently modernized to accommodate the Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35B), which is capable of Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL), enabling it to operate out of a wide range of bases, both afloat and a shore,” read the release from Fleet Forces.
Earlier this year, the Marine announced they would relocate Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) “Green Knights” are set to deploy to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in support of the forward deployed 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“The first [F-35B] deployment on an [amphibious ready group] will be out in WestPac (Western Pacific) on the 31st MEU in the fall of ’17,” 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commander Maj. Gen. Michael Rocco told USNI News in May.
“We’ll get the squadron out there, a 10-plane squadron, in January 2017. We’ll put six more aircraft out there in the summer of ’17 and then in the fall of ’17 is when the ship will be ready” to take on the jets.
The deployment of Wasp to Japan will be the second for the big deck after failures in the ship’s combat system relegated the ship to test operations and did not deploy for more than a decade.
Ahead of Wasp’s deployment it went through an extensive availability to improve the ship’s combat system.
“Wasp has also received upgrades to the combat systems suite to include upgrades to MK 2 Ship Self Defense System, SPQ-9B horizon search radar, MK 57 NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System, and upgrades to the shipboard local area network (LAN) and data link capability,” read the release.