The [Japanese] Defense Ministry released a report on Friday concluding that Izumo-class destroyers of the Maritime Self-Defense Force can handle takeoffs and landings of fighter aircraft, if remodeled.
The report positively evaluated the Izumo-class destroyers for their “high potential to improve aircraft operational capabilities.”
Izumo-class destroyers are the largest in the MSDF. The Izumo and Kaga destroyers, both currently in service, are under consideration to be remodeled into aircraft carriers by the MSDF.
The report, which was submitted on March 22, is based on an investigation the MSDF entrusted to Japan Marine United Corp., the company that manufactured the Izumo-class vessels.
According to the report, the company examined whether the most advanced stealth F-35B fighter aircraft, which are capable of making short take-offs and vertical landings, can be operated from the Izumo-class vessels. The report lists what needs to be remodeled and other necessities that would enable the aircraft to take off, land, refuel and hangar.
The investigation was conducted under the assumption that the purpose would be to provide logistic support to U.S. military aircraft. Aircraft maintenance work on the Izumo-class vessels was among the situations not envisaged.
The company also examined the possibility of operating unmanned aircraft with rotor blades or fixed wings.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Asahi Shimbun said that “the Defense Ministry's precondition for the study was to look into how the Izumo could be used to provide rear-line support to the U.S. military,” but not to operate F-35Bs on its own ships.
The company was asked to provide estimates for the cost and construction schedule if changes were made to allow U.S. F-35B stealth fighter jets to land vertically on the deck and to use elevators to transport aircraft to their hangars, it reported.)