The United States bolstered its offensive capabilities and options in Asia recently with the arrival of the converted amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in the Pacific Theater, which is carrying a contingent of F35Bs.
Built in the 1980s, the ship has since been upgraded so it can handle the vertical take-off/landing version of the stealthy F-35B.
Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said that the new planes add another capability and more options for the Pentagon in case it is called upon to act against North Korea.
“It does add a factor to North Korea’s calculations,” he said. “Since US warships constitute national territory under international law, it is like stationing the F-35s on a mobile piece of US territory. Unlike a US base on foreign territory, one can launch planes from a US warship without informing, much less gaining permission from, another country,” said Schuster, now a Hawaii Pacific University professor.
There are some drawbacks to the VTOL version F-35s; the rule of thumb is that they can only carry about 50 percent of fuel and weapons they could carry if launched via catapult from a standard aircraft carrier due to weight limitations. [source]
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