USS Wasp is to become the first sea platform for a test variant of the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. In preparation for the role, the amphibious assault ship has received a number of modifications necessary to accommodate the physical differences between the F-35B and the US Marines Corps AV-8B Harrier it is due to replace.

The alterations included moving the position of the flight deck tramline marking away from the superstructure to accommodate the larger wingspan of the new aircraft. The aft Sea Sparrow missile launcher has also been removed and replaced with a dummy mounting fitted with sensors to measure heat, vibrations, overpressure and sound levels. Other key parts of the ship have been fitted with sensors to record heat and stress levels and to monitor other hazards. Of particular interest will be the effects the more powerful F-35B has on the flight deck and manned areas below the landing spots.

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