After 75 years, Japan regained possession of aircraft carriers

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China was outraged by Japan’s decision to convert the JS Izumo and her “twin,” the JS Kaga, into aircraft carriers, claiming Tokyo had military ambitions similar to those of World War II.

75 years after its defeat in World War II, Japan is now officially back in possession of aircraft carriers when the renovation work of its Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ship “JS Izumo”   to a mini aircraft carrier went smoothly and will be ready soon.

The JS Izumo is a helicopter carrier (LHD), however due to the aggressive attitude of the Chinese military in the Indo Pacific, Tokyo decided to modify the JS Izumo and another LHD ship, the JS Kaga, to become a mini aircraft carrier.

The military threat from China has forced the Japanese government to spend millions of dollars to renovate the JS Izumo and JS Kaga into aircraft carriers.

JS Izumo
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft landed aboard the JS Izumo in a test a few months ago.

JS Izumo has completed the first round of renovations to the aircraft carrier which cost the US $ 30 million and is carrying out further renovations. Renovation work on the JS Kaga ship has only just begun earlier this year.

In October last year, two F-35B (VTOL-Vertical Take Off Landing) fighter jets belonging to the United States Marines conducted flight and landing tests of the JS Izumo. Flight tests of US-owned F-35B aircraft have been successfully conducted.

JS Izumo
The U.S. Marine Corps F-35B aircraft took off from the JS Izumo on a test flight a few months ago.

“The flight tests have proven that the JS Izumo has the capability to support the flight and landing of VTOL aircraft over the ocean, which will give us (the Japanese Army) additional options to our air defense system in the Pacific Ocean in the future,” the commander said. Japanese Navy Admiral Shukaku Kumota.

Indeed, the presence of JS Izumo and JS Kaga as mini aircraft carriers after the renovation was particularly appropriate as China increased its military capabilities to the point of threatening its neighboring countries.

The Japanese military has already ordered 42 F-35B fighter jets, however the first fighter aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin will only be received next year.

Since it will only receive F-35B aircraft next year, Japan had to enlist the help of the United States to train the crew and crew of JS Izumo in handling the flight and landing of fighter aircraft from its flight deck.

The United States as always is always ready to assist its allies especially in dealing with threats from China in the Pacific.

The U.S. Marine Corps is the largest user of F-35B aircraft with about 100 of the advanced aircraft flying and landing vertically.

In addition to Japan, the F-35B aircraft of the United States Marine Corps are also involved in assisting its other allies in the operation of F-35Bs such as the British Navy through the operation of the F-35B Marine on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It also flew and landed from the Italian Navy aircraft carrier, ITS Cavour.

JS Izumo and USS Ronald Reagan
JS Izumo and USS Ronald Reagan

Japan’s move to modify the JS Izumo and its “twin”, the  JS Kaga into an aircraft carrier, was highly unpopular with China , which claimed Tokyo had ambitions to return to military power as it had in World War II.

Beijing once voiced their concern over Japan’s plans to renovate JS Izumo and JS Kaga, asking Tokyo to cancel their intentions. Japan and China also have territorial disputes involving the Senkaku Islands.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman was once quoted as saying that Japan needs to do more to foster trust and regional peace and stability.

Apart from JS Izumo and JS Kaga, the Japanese Navy (called the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force) also has two other similar ships, the  JS Hyuga  and JS Ise. The two Izumo-class vessels (JS Izumo and JS Kaga) are estimated to be worth over US $ 1 billion each and began commissioning in JMSDF service in 2015 and 2017. JS Izumo began construction in 2011.

The main tasks of JS Izumo and JS Kaga when they were first built were to carry helicopters for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) tasks, humanitarian operations and for reconnaissance (surveillance).

 

Each ship is capable of carrying about 400 Japanese troops and seven ASW helicopters and two SAR (search and rescue) helicopters to support its anti-submarine operations.

There are also reports that Japan will place V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft aboard the JS Izumo and JS Kaga in the future. For defense systems, the JS Izumo and JS Kaga each carry two CIWS (Close In Weapon System) units and two “SeaRam” guided shells.

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