Japan Unveils Transformation of Destroyer into F-35 Aircraft Carrier

Photo Japan’s converted Izumo-class helicopter carrier, JS Kaga, now upgraded to be an aircraft carrier.¬†Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force

Japan proudly reveals the initial modifications to one of its helicopter-carrying destroyers, converting it into a light aircraft carrier capable of deploying F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters.

The successful conversion of JS Kaga sets the stage for its counterpart, JS Izumo, to undergo a similar transformation, enhancing Japan’s naval capabilities significantly.

Announced by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), the completion of the first phase of modifications on the Kaga showcases a newly designed flight deck tailored for F-35 jet operations.

With the first phase of special modifications completed as scheduled on March 29th, the JMSDF commits to systematically upgrading the Izumo-class destroyer to accommodate the operational requirements of the F-35B.

Upon the successful integration of F-35 capabilities on both vessels, Japan will reclaim a strategic maritime capability not witnessed since World War II, aligning with its plans to procure over 147 F-35s by October 2023.

This ambitious naval overhaul initiated by Japan in October 2021, including the establishment of its inaugural amphibious military unit and the introduction of modern frigates, underscores a significant shift in its defense posture.

Resembling US Navy big-deck amphibious assault ships, the upgraded Japanese warships echo the concept of “lightning carriers,” a term previously explored by the US military in relation to F-35 deployments.

While Japan boasts a rich history with aircraft carriers, these ongoing enhancements signify a pivotal milestone in its contemporary maritime strategy.

Furthermore, this project not only bolsters US-Japanese relations but also addresses regional security concerns, particularly amid China’s assertive military posturing.

The potential for collaboration between Japan and its allies, as demonstrated through initiatives like the AUKUS security agreement, highlights a shared commitment to regional stability.

However, China’s apprehensions regarding Japan’s expanding military capabilities underscore the delicate geopolitical dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region.

As tensions persist, it is imperative for Japan to navigate its security policies prudently, mindful of its historical legacy and regional sensitivities, while striving for peaceful coexistence in the international arena.

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