Home » Aviation » VIDEO: Marine F-35Bs Arrive on USS Wasp for First Pacific JSF Deployment


VIDEO: Marine F-35Bs Arrive on USS Wasp for First Pacific JSF Deployment

Marines assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) look on as an F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 prepares to touch down on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1). US Navy Photo

The Marines have sent their first operational squadron of F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters to sea for the aircraft’s first deployment on Monday, the service announced.

Six F-35Bs from the “Green Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 landed on the deck of amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) as part of the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Western Pacific patrol.

“This is a historic deployment,” Col. Tye R. Wallace, 31st MEU Commanding Officer, said in a statement.
“The F-35B is the most capable aircraft ever to support a Marine rifleman on the ground. It brings a range of new capabilities to the MEU that make us a more lethal and effective Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”

VMFA-121 is the first operational squadron of the fighters that will eventually replace the Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornet, EA-6B Prowler and AV-8B Harrier jets to support Marines ashore. The squadron became the first deployable squadron of Marine F-35s in 2015.

Early last year, the Green Knights relocated from Arizona to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, as the Marines’ forward-deployed fighter squadron that would support the Navy’s forward ARG.

The aircraft landed on the ship’s flight deck following Wasp’s departure from its new homeport of Sasebo, Japan, on March 3. Wasp will deploy with two guided-missile destroyers – USS Dewey (DDG-105) and USS Sterett (DDG-104). The destroyers were added as part of the so-called “up-gunned ESG” concept that would add additional anti-surface and anti-air capability to the traditional three-ship amphibious ready group.

The addition of the F-35 to the Navy’s amphibious fleet has the promises of greatly increasing the capability of ARG/MEUs to wage high-end war. For example, as part of the Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) construct, Marine F-35s could provide targeting information of enemy ships and aircraft to attached destroyers in an ESG. In 2016, Lockheed Martin proved that a ship-launched Raytheon Standard Missile 6 could be cued from the sensors on an F-35.

USS Wasp (LHD 1) prepares to pull into Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo on Jan. 18, 2018. US Navy Photo

While not as capable as a full-sized carrier strike group, an upgunned ESG would have more lethal capability on its own than previous amphibious deployments. Forces in the Western Pacific have been experimenting with non-traditional surface group deployments in last several years.

A second F-35B squadron, the Avengers of VMFA-211, is set to deploy from the West Coast aboard USS Essex (LHD-2).

  • Duane

    Go Marines!

    This new upgunned ESG is likely more lethal than any other surface battle group on the planet other than a CVN strike group.

    • battlestations

      I see where Mr. Buzz was correct, she now has both anchors! Good job and well done.

      Well Duane, lets hope these birds show us some new dance moves! With the 2 AB’s at their finger tips, that would make for a lot of rain, no f-18 can do that!

    • NavySubNuke

      Hey Duane, speaking of CVNs —- are you ready to admit yet that you were wrong when you said “No other nation on earth has ever owned a CVN”?
      Or is this going to be another example of you demonstrating your complete and utter lack of personal integrity by refusing to admit you are wrong?
      Hint: Google R91 FS Charles de Gaulle before answering to avoid embarrassing yourself further

      • Rocco

        Agreed evidently Duane has blocked me so if you don’t mind NSNK I’ll reply to Duane through you sir!!

        Hey Duane….. Or should I say Duanea’!! You’d be more respected if you’d admit you are wrong!! NSNK is not a troll even though he busts your balls!! Look up all the countries that have or had a Nuke carrier,s!!

        • Duane

          France is the only other nation with a CVN, duh.

          NSN is a determined troll who adds nothing to any discussion when he makes repeated personal attacks on me while ignoring the actual subject of the thread, precisely as he did yet again in this thread. Then USNI perversely moderates my comments for calling out his determined personal attacks as the trolling it obviously is, in violation of USNIs posted comment policy. Calling out obvious trolling and personal attacks is not trolling nor in violation of USNI comment policy, yet the moderators here persist in their perverse moderation actions.

          Note exactly who personally attacked who above, and which commenter addressed the post. Use your own eyes and judgment.

          • Rocco

            Duhs on you!! & I said had!! As in previously!!

  • RobM1981

    I’ve never been a fan of the platform, in general, but in this one use case – VSTOL – I agree that it is a game changer. Very impressive.

    • Rocco

      You should of been a fan from the get go!!!

  • Leatherstocking

    The F-35B are still short-legged and there is no embarked airborne refueling on these platforms. Certainly a big step up from the 1970s vintage Harriers. Does anyone know if the deck had to be modified for the heat exhaust?

    • Duane

      The F-35B, though shorter-legged than the A and C models, still has longer legs on internal fuel than any Hornet, Super Hornet, or Harrier. 410 nm combat radius vs. 360 nm. The F-35B can still be aerially refueled like any other warbird, and if need be, external tanks can be carried on the inboard hard points.

      • Leatherstocking

        Yes but the Wasp and its sisters have no aerial refueler aboard. I’ve never been thrilled with the F/A-18’s lack of range but they can be refueled by other Air Wing assets.

        • Duane

          Neither do the big deck CVNs have tankers today. The CVNs use one Hornet or SH to refuel two others.

          But the F/A-18 cannot operate from an amphib, nor can they or the Harriers do what the F-35B does.

          • Leatherstocking

            I concur – it’s a great leap for integrating Marine Air and the Amphibs. I always worry that our civil leadership will start misapplying the resource not understanding the limitations.

        • El Kabong

          What have Harriers been using for the last few DECADES?

        • Rocco

          They are working on this with a future osprey tanker!! Not that I agree with it as an incident already occurred with the rotor chopping off the fuel hose!

          • Duane

            The Osprey tanker variant is intended primarily to serve other Ospreys, as I understand it, though it potentially could also gas up the F-35B … but it is just conceptual so far. The Navy recently put out an RFP for an unmanned tanker, the MQ-25, to refuel CVN based fighters, so as to avoid using SHs as tankers.

          • Rocco

            I saw a picture on line of an osprey tanking a CH-53 & that operation caused to much turbulence and causing the rotor to chop off the fuel hose!

    • El Kabong

      Never heard of AV-8 Harrier’s I see…

    • Rocco

      Yes it did on spots 8 & 7! I visited the ship 3 yrs ago during fleet week! It’s called thermion! Like a 5-600 grit sandpaper!! Unlike the tacky stucco like nonskid!

    • For obvious reasons, range is not a priority to Marine helos, AV-8s and F-35Bs, which are designed to launch from an amphibious fleet within roughly 100 miles of their objective. That ‘stones throw’ distance does not justify a 30,000-foot cruising altitude; maybe 10K tops. Meanwhile USAF must have sufficient range and refueling due to limited basing options, and naval carrier airpower is further offshore than amphibious groups. Different ballgames.

      Consider that the F-35B’s combat radius of 410 nm is a 36% improvement over it’s predecessor, the AV-8B Harrier (300 nm), and roughly equivalent to the F-22’s radius (oh my!). In fact, with the AV-8 mission profile, the F-35B can skip refueling aboard ship during 2-3 re-arming stops. That’s 2-3 sorties between top-offs; unheard of in USN and USAF.

      So sacrificing fuel capacity for the F-35B’s STOVL lift features makes sense for the Marines. They don’t need range.

  • NavySubNuke

    It really is entertaining how every time someone points out that you are a fool and a liar you either accuse them of being a paid troll or call for the moderators to ban them.
    The idea that someone would actually be paid to point out your obvious lies and complete lack of any real knowledge is fairly hilarious.
    Of course an easier solution would be to simply admit when you are wrong but I realize your over-sized ego, undersized intellect, and complete and utter lack of personal integrity make that impossible for you.
    Have a great day Troll!

  • NavySubNuke

    I think all the readers here would appreciate it more if you stop telling lies.
    Failing that at least be a man and admit when you are lying when you are confronted with the proof of your lies. Having a cancer like you around is a detriment to everyone who wants to have an open an honest discussion.
    I realize you don’t like it when I call out your complete and utter lack of personal integrity but it is better than allowing your lies to go unchallenged.

  • El Kabong

    It is difficult to understand the mindset of a determined internet troll, named Duane.

    Answer the question, Duaney.

  • Rocco

    What’s old is new again!!

  • Ed L

    I remember the AV8A harriers. During the 1980s, a second generation Harrier emerged; manufactured in the United States as the AV-8B and in Britain as the British Aerospace Harrier II respectively Rotating the vectored thrust nozzles into a forward-facing position during normal flight is called vectoring in forward flight, or “VIFFing”. This is a dog-fighting tactic, allowing for more sudden braking and higher turn rates. Braking could cause a chasing aircraft to overshoot and present itself as a target for the Harrier it was chasing, a combat technique formally developed by the USMC for the Harrier in the early 1970s. During VFR (visual flight rules) harrier is usually the winner

    • Rocco

      Like in Top Gun!! Lol but not quite the same !!

  • Ed L

    I like the tactic of using the F-35 sensors providing targeting data for the SM-6