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Japan confirms that F-35B jets will operate from Izumo-class helicopter destroyer.

| 2020

Japan published its 2020 Defense White Paper today and in the section on the F-35B, the government has confirmed that the stealth fighter will operate from the Izumo-class helicopter destroyer.

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Japan confirms that F 35B jets will operate from Izumo class helicopter destroyer 925 001 Izumo DDH-183 (Picture source: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

The paper says this is in response to the new security environment and to protect Japan’s air and sea approaches.
Japan previously announced plans to convert JS Izumo and her sister Kaga, of the Izumo ‘helicopter destroyer’ class, into light aircraft carriers capable of operating F-35B jets.

The country also recently increased its order of F-35s, including 42 F-35Bs, making the country the second-largest operator behind the United States, a spot previously held by the United Kingdom.

For the record, the JMSDF was allocated US$28.8 million in fiscal year 2020 to perform the first stage of modifications for JS Izumo during its planned overhaul. It will then return to the fleet and receive the remaining conversion work in FY2025. In contrast, JS Kaga is expected to be fully modified during its next scheduled overhaul in FY2022.

Japan confirms that F 35B jets will operate from Izumo class helicopter destroyer 925 002The picture shows the Izumo DDH-183, the first ship of the Izumo-class helicopter destroyer (22DDH) of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Izumo DDH-183). (Picture source: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

About Izumo-class vessels:

The two 24,000 tonne Izumo-class vessels JS Izumo and JS Kaga, which were commissioned in 2015 and 2017 respectively, measure 248 metres long and have been built with several features that would support F-35B operations – such as the elevators, flight deck, and stowage area – although further work is required before the type can be fully qualified.

The JS Izumo can carry up to 28 aircraft including 12 F-35B, 8 V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and 8 ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) or SRA (Search And Rescue) helicopters, or 14 larger aircraft. Only seven ASW helicopters and two SAR helicopters are planned for the initial aircraft complement. For other operations, 400 troops and 50 3.5-ton trucks (or equivalent equipment) can also be carried. The flight deck has five helicopter landing spots that allow simultaneous landings and take-offs.

The Izumo-class is armed with 2 x 11 Cell SeaRAM missiles able to destroy supersonic and subsonic threats including cruise missiles, drones and helicopters, 2 Phalanx CIWS Close-In Weapon Systems and two Triple 324mm torpedoes tubes.

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