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Japan to launch first aircraft carriers since WW2

Japan will launch its first aircraft carrier since the end of World War II. It will consist in refitting the Izumo helicopter carrier into a ship that can deploy 10 Lockheed Martin F-35B stealth fighters (the short take-off/vertical landing version of the “Lightning 2”). The conversion should be completed within five years. The refitting of another helicopter carrier into a second aircraft carrier would follow.

Japan to launch first aircraft carriers since WW2 Izumo helicopter carrier (Picture source: JMSDF)

Japan needs a more powerful deterrence capability, as well as an increased missile defense and fighter capability, as North Korea's missile and nuclear threats remains unchanged in the absence of concrete steps to dismantle them, and China's maritime activity has grown increasingly assertive not only in the southern China Sea.

Japan has relatively little land on which to build runways long enough for conventional F-35s, and an aircraft carrier would be particularly useful in the western Pacific, where Japan tries to defend remote islands, including those disputed with China, and to play a greater role as part of the US-Japan alliance.

Japan to launch first aircraft carriers since WW2