Japan retrofit Izumo-class helicopter carriers to support F-35B operations

Some pictures of the JS Izumo undergoing refit work at Japan Marine United’s (JMU’s) Isogo shipyard in Yokohama City, with its island covered by scaffolding and the foredeck-mounted Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) removed, have been released over the past week.

Lockheed Martin F-35B

Tokyo has begun the process of converting the first of two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers capable of supporting the operations of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The JMSDF was allocated US$28.8 million in fiscal year 2020 to perform the first stage of modifications for JS Izumo during its planned overhaul. It will then return to the fleet and receive the remaining conversion work in FY2025. In contrast, JS Kaga is expected to be fully modified during its next scheduled overhaul in FY2022.

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