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IMDEX 2019: One of the largest ship of the Japanese Navy JS Izumo helicopter carrier.

| 2019

The JS Izumo, a helicopter carrier and one of the largest ship of the Japanese Navy takes part at IMDEX Asia 2019, maritime and defence exhibition which takes place in Singapore from 14 to 16 May 2019. The ships of this class are currently the largest surface combatants of the JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force), taking over the mantle previously held by the Hyūga-class helicopter destroyers.

One of the largest ship of the Japanese Navy JS Izumo helicopter carrier Singapore IMDEX 2019 925 001The JS Izumo, helicopter carrier and one of the Japanese Navy's largest ships, has docked in Singapore as part of IMDEX Asia 2019. (Picture source printscreen AFP video Youtube)

The JS Izumo was officially unveiled at Yokohama on 6 August 2013. In December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet gave the approval to convert both ships into aircraft carriers capable of operating the F-35B.

The revised version of the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG), which set out Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) capability targets over a period of about 10 years, stated that the government will “enable fighter jets to be operated from existing warships, if necessary, to improve the flexibility of their operation.” The NDPG furthermore re-designates the JS Izumo as a multi-purpose escort destroyer to comply with Japan’s pacifist constitution that limits JSDF capabilities to self-defense.

In its 10-year Defense Program Guidelines, Tokyo said it will buy 42 of the stealthy F-35Bs, which are designed for short-run takeoffs and vertical landings. Those planes will be available for deployment aboard two flat-top ships, the JS Izumo and JS Kaga.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces’ two Izumo-class helicopter destroyers measure 248 meters in length and currently operate 9 helicopters. Should they be converted for the operation of F-35B jets, the ships would have to receive a special thermion coating which would protect the flight deck from the temperatures created by F-35B thrusters.

In terms of air defense capabilities, the ship is equipped with 3 Phalanx CIWS and 2 SeaRAM. The Phalanx CIWS is a close-in weapon system armed with 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling gun automatic cannon that can be used for air defense against anti-ship missiles, helicopters, etc. The SeaRAM missile system defends ships against supersonic and subsonic threats including cruise missiles, drones and helicopters.

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