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Japanese Navy JS Izumo DDH 183 in the latest modification phase to become aircraft carrier


According to a picture published on the Twitter account of “tokyoincident” on June 27, 2020, the Izumo-class helicopter carriers in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is in the latest phase to become an aircraft carrier after modification allowing the ship to operate STOVL (Short TakeOff/Vertical Landing) F-35B stealth fighter aircraft.
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Japanese Navy JS Izumo DDH 183 in the latest modification phase to become aircraft carrier 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)


In December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet gave the approval to convert them into aircraft carriers capable of operating the STOVL F-35B. On 30 December 2019, the Japanese Ministry of Defense approved the FY2020 budget that would finance the refurbishment of the Izumo class for F-35B operation.

Currently, the Japanese Navy has two Izumo-class helicopter carriers including the DDH-183 Izumo and the DDH-184 both will be converted to aircraft carriers.

Later, in February 2018, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Japan was planning to acquire 40 F-35B, the Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which could be operated from Izumo class with some modifications to the ships. It was estimated that each Izumo-class carrier could operate 12 or more F-35B stealth fighter aircraft.

One of the most important modifications to convert the Izumo-class into aircraft carrier is the reinforcement of the decks to support the additional weight of F-35B, as well as the heat and forces from the jets during vertical landing.

According to naval military expert, 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.