U.S., Japanese commanders observe F-35B operations aboard USS Wasp

The commanders of U.S. 7th Fleet and the Japan’s Self-Defense Fleet visited the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Feb. 5, to observe the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operations at sea.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Vice Adm. Kazuki Yamashita were joined by other senior JMSDF officers to showcase Wasp ARG’s amphibious capabilities, including operations by 31st MEU F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

“It’s great getting out to sea with my counterpart, Vice Adm. Yamashita.” Sawyer said. “Our forces work together closely every day and I look forward to seeing that partnership expand with new capabilities, like F-35B.”

The Japan Self-Defense Force has been working with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to develop greater amphibious capabilities as part of the newly-established Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB).

While aboard Sawyer and Yamashita met with Wasp ARG leaders, received briefs about amphibious capabilities and observed flight operations by 31st MEU F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

Wasp, flagship of the Wasp ARG, with embarked 31st MEU, is operating in the Indo-Pacific region.

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U.S. and Japan military officials discuss the F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1), Feb. 5. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Sean Galbreath)