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USNI News Video: USS Wasp Arrives in Japan

The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) arrived in its new homeport of Sasebo, Japan on Jan. 14. The ship replaced USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) as the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship in U.S. 7th Fleet. Wasp is the first ship in the region that will regularly operate with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters.

  • kye154

    Finally, after all these years, they are doing something with this ship. The ship’s absence from the front lines isn’t new.. The Wasp last MEU/ARG deployment ended in September 2004, over 13 years ago. During that time the USS Wasp has not had a deployment of any kind that exceeded 4 months, except one. The Wasp two biggest cruises were the humanitarian relief in Lebanon from August to November of 2006. Then she was deployed In June 2016, for a six-month tour to the Middle East Sure, she was used in short term disaster relief efforts and in the testing of the Osprey in 2009 and JSF in 2011, but really, any old barge or mothballed carrier could have been used for that. There had been rumors suggesting that the Wasp had deficiencies in the ship’s combat system, and the Wasp is still not fully configured for the JSF’s operation, although the Navy adamantly denies this. If we were to agree with the Navy, then one has to question why the Navy kept her pierside for so long, and not rotated her overseas. It was certainly a waste of the navy’s resources. The Wasp was commissioned in 1989, and now she is close to the end of her 30 year life expectancy for an amphibious ship. Guess the only reason why the Wasp was deployed to Japan this time, was because the Navy is spread out too thinly and short of amphibious ships, and any old barge would do at this point in time? What else could it be?

    • Duane

      You manage to hype a negative spin about every single US Navy action, ship, weapon, etc. What is your point?

      You’re ignoring, of course, the fact that Wasp, being a first ship of class, was used for developmental testing and integration of new naval and marine aircraft, being the first ship qualified to deploy the V-22 Osprey in 2007 and then selected in 2011 to do all the developmental testing and integration and upgrading for the F-35B, the first ship in the Navy to deploy that aircraft, now on station in Japan. She also participated in numerous presence and emergency response missions throughout the world.

      By the way, the service life for the LHD class is 35 years, and these can be slepped another 15 years. The Wasp just completed all the modifications necessary for deploying theF-35B so it’s not going to the scrapyard any time soon.

      • b2

        Question for me is are the F-35Bs aboard her truly operational, not flying with restriction(s) and REALLY combat capable…
        Yes, I question this class of ship and ARG/MEU configuration strategically and especially in light of our deficiency of blue water Naval Aviation CSGs….. Do we really need F-35Bs to conduct a NEO in a west African littoral country? That is the capability this ship can actually do. This class isn’t made for blue water war-at-sea or forcible entry into a peer adversary….

        • kye154

          Yes, B2, you really hit upon some very good points. Certainly don’t need F-35s aboard for a low tech war either.

          Also, here is what Michael Gilmore, director of the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office said in 2015: the F-35B tsts aboard the USS Wasp was so flawed that it “was not an operational test… in either a formal or informal sense of the term.” Furthermore, the test “did not — and could not — demonstrate” that the version of the F-35B that was evaluated “is ready for real-world operational deployments, given the way the event was structured. And…. “key combat mission systems were not installed in the aircraft or were not cleared for use.” During the tests, the F-35B’s were “not cleared to carry or employ any ordnance,” All this makes one wonder why they would deploy such a ship to Japan, with the idea in mind of using the ship against North Korea, when the Wasp’s main armament, the F-35, is so flawed.

          You can find more on this on Defense-Aerospace webpage and searching for the article: “A closer look at DOT report on the F-35”.

          • Sanpaku

            Question then key154: Part of the move to the JSF was a nod to logistics. We’re now fielding 3 configurations of the same plane that share many of the same components, and we know that this is always going to present an integration problem.

            So here’s my question: The F-35 would seem to be overkill for littoral ops, but what would you suggest deploying instead? And doesn’t this offer an opportunity to field test this understandably problematical platform?

            Thanks in advance for any commentary.

          • Duane

            There is no integration issue between the three F-35 variants. They all operate from exactly the same sensors, sensor fusion, weapons systems, comms, datalinks, ALIS maintenance data system, etc. Parts commonality is about 40-50% between the three variants, but all the important stuff that matters to pilots and operations is common amongst all three variants.. The Navy won’t operate both B and C models on the same ship, so any differences in spares and maintenance won’t matter to the maintainers.

            It is silly to say that “F-35s are overkill for littoral ops”. Virtually everything the Navy and Marines are tasked with doing in today’s warfare takes place in,over, or near the littorals, so saying the F-35B is overkill basically says our Navy and Marines aren’t worth supporting with anything but old equipment that cannot survive in a contested air environment.

          • muzzleloader

            It is evident that the F-35 is being slow walked through many of its development phases. At some point the aircraft is going to be fielded in some real world operational role. Perhaps the brass thinks that this deployment is the best way to introduce the F-35, even though it might be considered overkill

          • Duane

            The F-35Bs were fielded, as in deployed, battle ready, to Iwakuni Japan more than a year ago. They’ve been integrated into the defense system for potential war against North Korea since then, having gone through multiple exercises with other US fighters and bombers, including the B-1Bs out of Guam, and also integrated with ROK-AF and Japanese Self Defense Forces aircraft ever since they arrived in Japan a year ago. This is invaluable because both Japan and ROK are also buying F-35s, so learning how to integrate the capabilities of the F-35s into their forces as they start receiving the fighters is of tremendous training and readiness value.

            There’s no such thing as “overkill” when you deploy your finest aircraft to the world’s hottest potential theater of war.

          • kye154

            We have sent the Japanese junk before, and they are well aware of this too. After they purchased the first 4 of the F-35As, they have been reluctant to buy much more, particularly of the B version. But, regardless of which version they do buy, its not going to remedy the ballistic missile threat, and that is really their main worry.

          • Duane

            You could not be more wrong. The Japanese are building F-35As themselves, and are primary developmental program partners since its inception. They are extremely happy with the F-35, and not only that, they’re now seriously considering adding to their own orders by adding F-35Bs and operating them off existing helicopter carriers to be modified to deploy F-35B.

            Every country that has actually witnessed and participated in exercises with the F-35 are ecstatic about its capabilities. We are selling now to countries that never before planned to buy F-35s, including Germany, and the UAE, and even Canada’s liberals who campaigned against the Conservatives plans to buy the F-35 are already in the process of changing their minds and buying F-35s rather than Boeing’s Super Hornet. Nearly 50% of all F-35 sales will end up being to foreign allies.

          • kye154

            Slow walked? It was designed in 1992, and flew for the first time in 2005, and has problems meeting its advertised combat specs ever since. There was no intentional slow walk about it. Everything about the F-35 was just a muddled mess. The F-22 was of a slightly earlier design, and made its first flight in 1997, and is a far superior plane to the F-35. The main issue with the “slow” development of the F-35 has to do with Lockheed promised more than it could deliver and milking the government contract for all it can get. Same with the contracts to other countries too, and its a big reason why Canada is not buying any of these planes. There were a number of congressional hearings on it, and even Trump had raised a stink about it.

          • kye154

            The F-35B is different in configuration from the Air Force’s F-35A and the Navy’s carrier version, the F-35C. Although some components are interchangeable, the F-35B is really not, since unlike the other versions, it has a driveshaft connected from the engine to the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem fan, that is located behind the cockpit. This lift system takes up room, which would otherwise be used in the other versions of the plane as a weapons bay. So, weapons have to be hung out on the wings, which detracts from its stealth capabilities. And since it has one of the most powerful engines of any combat aircraft, its a gas hog too. The range of the F-35B is shorter than the other versions,. F-35B range is 900 miles, whereas the F-35C is 1400 miles.

            Yes, you are correct, the F-35 is really not well suited for littoral ops and certainly over-priced for it too, But the problem with designing supersonic combat VTOL aircraft is that you have a capabilities trade-off of limiting the weight of the weapons load, just to launch it off the deck vertically.. Secondly, Michael Gilmore has pretty much stated on Oct. 2017, that the F-35 needs supporting air cover from either the F-15s, F-18’s or the F-22, since it is not well suited for air-to-air combat. If that is the case, then the navy should really look at drones as a replacement instead. Its best that the navy reconsider a flight assist or VTOL fighter version of the X-47B drone that they experimented with, or the newer UCLASS’s. The advances in drone technology in recent years, is starting to make manned aircraft obsolete anyway. (Besides, you can store more drones on the hanger deck than you can F-35s). Or, make the LHD class of ships missile platforms instead. That would really would be the best choices.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            That’s the same Gilmore who isn’t a pilot, and neither he or his team every tested an F-35?

            Same guy?

            And thank you for that update from 3 years ago…. I’m sure nothing has changed since then!

          • Duane

            Gilmore was a dedicated F-35 hater who got fired just as the new administration came in a year ago. His DOT&E reports were always extremely nit picking and negative, and he declared openly on multiple occasions that he saw it as his job to kill the F-35 – which is now the world’s most capable fighter aircraft, bar none.

          • kye154

            Not true. Michael Moore and his research group are high tech all the way, and the authority on weapons research, operations, and technology. and he comes with a PhD in nuclear Engineering. Secondly, he was politically appointed, and like all political appointees, he knew he would be eventually replaced when administrations changed. But, he never got “fired” over the F-35 and he held the position right up until January 2017..

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          I think these Lightnings are Block-2B.

          They are capable in that they have been creaming their opponents at Flag events for the last couple of years, but they aren’t at 3F benchmark yet.

          • Duane

            No – the Iwakuni birds went to Japan a year ago as Block 3I which has been out for about two years. They’re easily upgraded in the field to 3F which went operational last September (all new aircraft coming out of the factory have been delivered with 3F since September, and the 3I birds are being field upgraded as we speak). If they haven’t been upgraded yet to 3F, they will be shortly. These aircraft are tip of the spear – not backwater trainers.

          • incredulous1

            right and that helped tip the balance of power in the region, but China is still defense spending like a drunken sailor and lying about it.

        • Duane

          b2 – yes, the F-35Bs are fully operational, have been for 2 and a half years now. These specific aircraft were forward deployed to Iwakuni Base a year ago with Block 3I software, and as of last September Block 3F (the so-called “full warfighting capability” block) went operational and upgrades began on all of the existing birds that were at least 3I, because they only need a software load conducted in the field. Some of the older Block 1 and 2 birds required hardware changeouts and a depot visit, and the DOD was considering, but not necessarily deciding yet, to delay upgrading some of those birds used only for training F-35 pilots. That is not an issue with the Iwakuni-based squadron. They’re fighters, not trainers.

          F-35Bs are designed and expected to perform in a true multi-role mission set, everything from CAS for Marines to anti-ship and air to air and ISR and particularly taking out enemy air defenses. Whether they are needed in West Africa is something that will be decided as circumstances evolve. Right now, the first wartime or at least potential wartime deployments for the F-35Bs are in the West Pac Rim area in the ECS and SCS, deployed out of Japan. I expect that the next priority area we’ll see F-35Bs go is in the Persian Gulf area.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      The Wasp was deployed with its Harriers to pound ISIS in Libya in December 16

    • Lawman

      Take you anti psychotic drugs

  • kaigun2

    Has the Navy given up on the idea of crew swap for FDNF? Or did he just not mention it in the video?

    • John Locke

      They do that with FDNF LCS’s

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    The Wasp bearing ‘Killer B’s

    I would say this is straight away the 3rd most powerful carrier/plane combination on Earth, behind the Nimitz & Chaz-De-Gaulle.

  • battlestations

    I for one have been waiting for this deployment, I am anxious to learn as much as they will tell us on what kind of edge this platform, the Wasp, f-35’s both A & B’s working together, up gunned strike groups, when Wasp and a Nimitz are together what will that bring to a fight? Integrated battle space.
    Will they really be capable of dominating in a contested environment as proclaimed?
    Would hate to see any sort of repeat of the other Wasp in ’42, in that she came on the scene as back up and quickly was a casualty.
    Can’t have f-35’s landing in the water every other week either.
    It will be interesting to watch this whole concept evolve, Go Navy!
    and Marines.

    • Murray

      During the Korean War (1950-53) USN CVs operated off the east coast of Korea while CVLs (USN, RN & RAN) operated off the west coast. I would not be surprised if something similar is being planned for the Ronald Reagan CSG and the Wasp ARG/MEU.