The US Navy will soon have an aircraft carrier full of F-35s on North Korea’s doorstep

An F-35B beginning its short takeoff from the USS America with an external weapons load.
Lockheed Martin

The US Navy’s USS Wasp helicopter carrier will replace the USS Bonhomme Richard in the 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed base at Sasebo, Japan, thereby giving the US an F-35 compatible aircraft carrier right at North Korea and China’s doorstep.

The Wasp, one of the smaller-deck carriers the US Marine Corps’ F-35B trained on and tested, will join with a squadron of Marine fighter pilots to put forth one of the most potent concentrations of naval power ever put to sea in the Pacific.

“This move ensures that our most technologically advanced air warfare platforms are forward deployed,” Capt. Andrew Smith, the Wasp’s commanding officer, said in a Navy release. “Our capabilities, paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, increases our Navy’s precision strike capabilities within the 7th Fleet region. Wasp will help America’s commitment to the maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”

Japan saw the US’s first deployment of the revolutionary F-35B outside of its own borders, which telegraphs just how suited the platform is to projecting power in the Pacific.

With a short takeoff and vertical-landing ability, the Wasp will pack a handful of F-35Bs, which can fly in stealth mode or laden with guns and bombs.

Recently, F-35s have taken part in mock bomb runs over the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s frequent military provocations.

USS Wasp

US Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, Marine Aircraft Group 29, preparing for flight on the deck of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp.
US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary L. Borden