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Japan showed off the destroyer it is turning into an aircraft carrier for F-35 stealth fighters

  • Japan says initial retrofit work on its newly converted light aircraft carrier has been completed.

  • JS Kaga was a helicopter carrier identified as a destroyer converted to carry F-35 jets.

  • The Kaga will now undergo sea trials and the results will help inform upgrades on another ship.

Japan shows off the first changes made to one of its helicopter-carrying destroyers to turn it into a light aircraft carrier capable of flying F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters.

The successful retrofit of JS Kaga will pave the way for the conversion of another helicopter carrier, JS Izumo, into an aircraft carrier.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force announced the completion of the first special modification work on the Kaga earlier this month. A post on

The JMSDF noted in the post that it was still upgrading another ship, the Izumo lead-in-class helicopter carrier, to launch and recover F-35s. Once both ships can fly the jets, Japan will have a capability it hasn’t seen since World War II.

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And it will need it too. As of October 2023, Japan still plans to purchase more than 147 F-35s: 105 F-35As and 42 F-35Bs.

Japan began a major overhaul of its self-defense force in October 2021, creating its first amphibious military unit since World War II and launching a new class of modern frigates. It also announced the conversion of the two Izumo-class helicopter carriers into light aircraft carriers.

The upgraded Japanese warship resembles a U.S. Navy large-deck amphibious assault ship that the Navy and Marines have previously explored as light so-called “lightning carriers,” referring to the F-35.

Although Japan has a long history with flattops and its Navy was one of the first to use aircraft carriers effectively, the continued upgrades represent a milestone for the country in the modern maritime era.

The project is also an opportunity in US-Japan relations amid concerns about aggression from China as Japan builds aircraft carriers that could eventually house both US and its own fighter jets, as evidenced in October 2021 when two F-35Bs of the United States Marine Corps landed and took off from the deck of the Izumo.

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In 2018, Japan said China was engaged in “unilateral, coercive attempts to change the status quo based on its own claims that are incompatible with the existing international order.” Since then, more complaints have been filed.

Japan f35

The aircraft, designated AX-6, is the second F-35A assembled at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ F-35 Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya, Japan and is the first to be assigned to the 3rd Air Wing of the JASDF. , 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.Courtesy of the F-35 Joint Program Office

China’s growing military power has raised concerns among U.S. military leaders and lawmakers, while the continued buildup of China’s navy, the world’s largest, has raised alarms about America’s faltering shipbuilding and what is needed for the future.

Earlier this month, China raised concerns about Japan’s partnerships and growing capabilities, particularly the potential that the country could cooperate with Australia, Britain and the US on nuclear-powered submarines in the AUKUS security deal.

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“Given Japan’s not-too-distant history of militaristic aggression, Japan’s military and security moves are closely watched by its Asian neighbors and the international community,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said.

“Japan must seriously reflect on its history of aggression, end its involvement with small military and security groups and truly embark on a path to peaceful development,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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