The Japanese government is considering the possibility of acquiring US-made F-35B fighter jets in future, as it is looking into remodelling Tokyo’s Izumo helicopter carrier.
The 248-metre (814-feet) Izumo, Japan's largest warship equipped with a flat flight deck, was designed with an eye to hosting F-35B fighters. Its elevator connecting the deck with the hangar can carry the aircraft, the government sources told Reuters.
Three government sources close to the matter were quoted as saying that the Japanese government was keeping in sight the possible future procurement of F-35B fighter jets, which can take off and land vertically, as it looks into the remodelling of the Izumo.
Any refit of the Izumo would be aimed at preparing for a scenario in which runways in Japan had been destroyed by missile attacks, and at bolstering defence around Japan's southwestern islands, where China's maritime activity has increased.
Possible refitting measures included adding a curved ramp at the end of the flight deck, improving the deck's heat resistance against jet burners, and reinforcing the ship's air traffic control capability, they said.
However, Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the government was not taking any concrete steps towards refitting the Izumo.
"Regarding our defence posture, we are constantly conducting various examinations. But no concrete examination is under way on the introduction of F-35B or remodelling of Izumo-class destroyers," Onodera told reporters on Tuesday.
The United States plans to deploy 16 F-35 fighters to the US military base in Japans Iwakuni in Yamaguchi. The plan is to deploy 10 aircraft in January and additional six in August next year
Japan is slated to dispatch one its largest warships, the Izumo-class helicopter carrier JS Kaga, to the South China Sea that will last for year, two officials with direct knowledge of the operation told Reuters. “This is part Japan's efforts to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific," one of the officials said
The US Marine Corps deployed F-35B Lightning II aircraft this week to one of its Marine Expeditionary Unit in East China Sea, marking the fighter's first operational deployment with the unit. A detachment of F-35B Lightning IIs with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, landed on the USS Wasp (LHD-1) on March 5, the US Marines said in a statement
The Japanese government is considering purchase of additional 25 or more Lockheed Martin-built F-35A aircraft, to be directly purchased from the US plant rather than assemble locally. "In view of budgets and production schedules, a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate," a Japanese official told Reuters Wednesday
The US State Department has approved a sale of four Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles for an estimated cost of $133.3 million to Japan, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Tuesday
A US Marine Corps AH-1 attack helicopter made an emergency landing in Japans Okinavwa islands in a second incident in three days. A Marine Corps AH-1 attack helicopter with two people aboard landed in a field at a waste disposal site in the town of Yomitan on Okinawa's main island, according to Japanese media reports
South Korea may consider introducing several F-35B fighter jets for its newest amphibious landing ship slated to be deployed in 2020, Yonhap reports. According to the report, the officials are considering possibilities of operating the F-35B fighter, a short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the US-made fifth-generation warplane from the second 14,000-ton Dokdo-class vessel
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