MCAS IWAKUNI, Japan --- Japan’s largest ships can be modified to support F-35B Lighting II stealth fighters, according to the nation’s Defense Ministry.
A study released by the agency on April 27 concludes that flattop Izumo-class helicopter destroyers can be retrofitted to support the short-takeoff, vertical-landing jets.
“This was a basic study necessary to objectively understand the maximum potential ability of Hyuga-class and Izumo-class destroyers,” a Defense Ministry spokeswoman told Stars and Stripes in an email.
This summer, Iwakuni-based F-35Bs completed their first patrol aboard the Sasebo-based USS Wasp, an amphibious-assault ship similar to the Japanese mini-carriers.
The study also looked at the Japanese ships’ ability to launch American military drones — the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and the fixed-wing RQ-21A Blackjack — the spokeswoman said.
A May 2 article in The Diplomat suggested that the Japanese destroyers were built to carry the F-35B with decks able to withstand jet exhaust and elevators to take them to and from internal hangars.
The ships could provide rear-line support to the U.S. military during joint military operations; however, modifications to accommodate the F-35B on the Izumo-class ships would require the installation of a ski-jump, according to the study. (end of excerpt)
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