A Marine F-35B landed on a Japanese ship for the first time, marking another step in the Marine Corps’ goal to work closely with American allies.
“We have the utmost confidence in the Joint Strike Fighter and are eager for our Japanese allies to have the same capabilities in their hands, which ultimately contributes to our shared goal of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Maj. Gen. Brian W. Cavanaugh, commander of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a press release.
An F-35B from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242, also known as VMFA-242, from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, landed on the Japanese ship Izumo. Some modifications were made to the ship that allowed the short takeoff and landing version of the F-35 to safely operate off the vessel.
“This trial has proved that the JS Izumo has the capability to support takeoffs and landings of STOVL aircraft at sea, which will allow us to provide an additional option for air defense in the Pacific Ocean in the near future,” Japanese Rear Adm. Komuta Shukaku, commander of Escort Flotilla One, said in the press release.
The landing was done as Japan plans field 42 F-35Bs, but the ability for Marines to operate off allied ships provides increased flexibility and makes it harder for a potential adversary to predict where Marine squadrons will deploy from.
In the spirit of growing international flexibility, the Corps currently has 10 F-35Bs with VMFA-211 deployed on the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth.
”Imagine a world where you’re agnostic as to whether the ship you are operating from has USS or HMS on it,” Col. Simon, the U.S. senior national representative to the U.K’s carrier strike group, told Marine Corps Times in 2020. “That really increases the flexibility and the potential lethality of both nations.”