|U.S. Marine F-35Bs to Operate off Largest Japanese Warship Later This Year|
By: Sam LaGrone
September 1, 2021
U.S. Marine F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters will operate off a Japanese warship later this year, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said on Wednesday.
In November, the Marine F-35Bs will embark on one of the two 24,000-ton Izumo-class helicopter destroyers in an exchange that could lead to a similar program in which a U.S. Marine JSF squadron embarked aboard U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) this year.
“We’re not going to go on deployment but we’re actually going to fly U.S. Marine Corps F-35s off of a Japanese ship,” Berger said on Wednesday during a U.S. Naval Institute – CSIS Maritime Security Dialogue.
The Japanese government approached the Marines in 2019 to consider the exchange of aircraft in parallel to the retrofit that would allow Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships JS Izumo (DDH-183) and JS Kaga (DDH-184) to embark F-35Bs, USNI News reported at the time.
The warship will likely be JS Izumo (DDH-183). Izumo completed the first phase of the modifications to accommodate F-35s in July, according to Naval News. The modifications include adding lines to the deck and heat-resistant coatings.
“In this second modification, the bow shape of the Izumo will be changed from the current trapezoidal shape to a rectangular shape to make it easier to operate the F-35B, and other changes to the ship’s interior compartments are also planned,” reported Naval News.
The modification of Izumo and Kaga are paired with a planned JSDF buy of 42 F-35Bs to operate from the two ships. The first of the JSDF F-35Bs are set to arrive in Fiscal Year 2023.
The expansion of Japan’s F-35 capability comes as the Chinese have expanded their own naval capability to improve the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s amphibious capability...