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Japan starts refit work on Izumo-class helicopter carriers to support F-35B operations


Some pictures of the JS Izumo undergoing refit work at Japan Marine United’s (JMU’s) Isogo shipyard in Yokohama City, with its island covered by scaffolding and the foredeck-mounted Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) removed, have been released over the past week.
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Japan starts refit work on Izumo class helicopter carriers to support F 35B operations 925 001 Japanese Navy JS Izumo DDH 183 undergoing modification to become aircraft carrier class ship, at the Japan Marine United shipyard in Yokohama. (Picture source: Twitter account: tokyoincident)


Tokyo has begun the process of converting the first of two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers capable of supporting the operations of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

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 starts refit work on Izumo class helicopter carriers to support F 35B operations 925 002JS Izumo multipurpose destroyer (Picture source: Wikipedia)


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.