The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) conducted verification landing of the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landings (STOVL) fighter on its JS Izumo aircraft carrier for the first time on October 3.
“This verification is the first time for an F-35B to land on a JMSDF vessel, and Japan is working to improve its capabilities in the maritime and air domains,” JMSDF announced today.
Izumo is Japan’s first warship capable of operating fixed-wing airplanes since WW2. The country has up to 42 F-35Bs on order and is conducting refits on Izumo and Kaga. The former completed the first of a two-stage modification that involved adding heat resistant coating to the flight deck and flight line markings for F-35 operations. The next stage of the conversion will include changes to the ship’s internal spaces to accommodate F-35B operations besides rebuilding the front of the flight deck from a trapezoidal to a rectangular shape. These changes are expected to create an increase in aviation fuel capacity onboard and provision for armored magazines to store air-launched weapons. The modifications are scheduled for completion in 2026.
Japan already has eight F-35B STOVL jets on contract for delivery beginning in 2024, with the latest Japanese defense budget allocating funding for a further four aircraft in the 2022 fiscal year.