After a gap of 75 years, the Japanese are back to operating fighter jets from flat-deck warships at sea. The last time the Japanese Navy launched a plane from an aircraft carrier was during the World War II (1939-1945).
Since the WW, Japanese adopted a pacifist constitution and avoid such war waging machines.
Now after a gap of 75 years the US Marine Corps operated the F-35B Lightning II fighters from the Japanese flattop JS Izumo, the 248 meter long warship was built as a helicopter carrier and has been modified to operate fighter jets.one of the changes was heat-resistant coating added to its deck this year, enabling it to support F-35B vertical landings.
Flying operations by the US Marine Corps was part of the test of the Izumo’s newly acquired ability to carry the F35.
A video has been posted by Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force on its twitter handle. The accompanying text says it all “JMSDF conducted verification of takeoff and landing of the F-35B..The JMSDF continues to steadily carry out the necessary modifications to the Izumo class to acquire the capability to operate the F-35Bs”.
Verification data conducted various training and education necessary for the operation of F-35B fighter on naval vessels, improved interoperability between Japan and the U.S.”
The JMSDF also released a two-minute video showing the F-35s launching from Izumo and recovering via a vertical landing on the ship.
Izumo completed the first of a two-stage modification in June that will enable it to operate the F-35, with the first stage adding heat resistant coating to the flight deck and marking flight lines for F-35B operations.
Izumo’s final conversion work will take place in Fiscal Year 2025, while its sister ship JS Kaga will receive the full modifications in FY 2022. The second stage of Izumo’s conversion and the full stage of Kaga’s conversion will involve a change of the shape of the ships’ bows, along with interior reconfiguration that will allow them to embark and fully operate F-35s.
Jets from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, were used. The Izumo arrived at the coastal air station. The MCAS Iwakuni, is about 50 miles south of Hiroshima, is home to two F-35B squadrons, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242.
Japan’s change to get F35
In 2020 the US okayed the sale of 42 of the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft produced by Lockheed Martin, under a $ 23.11 Billion deal that includes another 63 conventional to buy 63 of F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft.
This had come after Japan, in 2019, announced its plans to have fighter jets on its existing ‘flat-decks’, the Izumo class helicopter carriers. In the past 24 months, the Indo-Pacific has seen interesting developments on ‘carriers’. Japan and China have literally ‘changed gears’ to accelerate the ‘Asian aircraft carrier race’. India and Korea are the other two Asian countries which are seen part of this ‘race’ and have carriers, or are making one. Read full IDD perspective paper on this