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JS Kaga, JS Izumo Mark Japan’s Readiness to Confront China’s Military Adventurism

China has expressed displeasure with Japan's conversion of JS Izumo and its counterpart, JS Kaga, from "helicopter destroyers" to mini aircraft carriers, claiming that Tokyo harbors ambitions to regain military power as it did during World War II.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has released images recently showcasing the current state of the “helicopter destroyer” JS Kaga (DDH 184) following modifications at a shipyard in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture.

According to Navalnews, JS Kaga is currently undergoing sea trials, with the conversion work to transform it into an “amphibious assault ship” or an mini aircraft carrier nearly complete.

JS Kaga is based at the Kure Naval Base.

Over the past few years, Tokyo has invested hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to convert two of its “helicopter destroyers,” JS Kaga and JS Izumo (DDH-183), into mini aircraft carriers.

This strategic move is part of Japan’s response to escalating tensions in the Indo-Pacific, driven by China’s assertive behavior.

Upon the anticipated completion of the modification work on JS Kaga and JS Izumo by 2027, Japan will, for the first time since the end of World War II, possess dedicated aircraft carriers.

JS Kaga
JS Kaga (JMSDF)

 

Once transformed into mini aircraft carriers, both vessels from the JMSDF are designed to operate F-35B fighter jets (Vertical Short Take-Off and Landing – VSTOL) capable of vertical takeoff and landing from very short runways.

Both vessels have a displacement of 27,000 tons each.

Japan made the decision to retrofit both ships in 2018.

 JS Izumo has completed its first round of modifications costing $30 million (RM120 million) and is currently undergoing further upgrades.

In October 2021, two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighter jets successfully conducted flight tests and landings on JS Izumo.

JS Kaga
JS Kaga (JMSDF)

 

The successful flight tests demonstrated the ship’s capability to support VSTOL aircraft operations over the ocean, providing additional options for the JMSDF’s air defense system in the Pacific Ocean in the future.

Japan has ordered a total of 105 F-35 aircraft for its air force, with 40 of them in the F-35B VSTOL variant.

China has expressed displeasure with Japan’s conversion of JS Izumo and its counterpart, JS Kaga, from “helicopter destroyers” to mini aircraft carriers, claiming that Tokyo harbors ambitions to regain military power as it did during World War II.

Beijing has previously voiced concerns over Japan’s plans to modify JS Izumo and JS Kaga, urging Tokyo to abandon its intentions.

Izumo
JS Izumo

 

Both Izumo-class vessels (JS Izumo and JS Kaga) are estimated to be worth over $1 billion each and entered JMSDF service in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

JS Izumo’s construction began in 2011.

The primary missions of JS Izumo and JS Kaga, initially built as helicopter carriers, included anti-submarine warfare (ASW), humanitarian operations, and surveillance. — DSA

 

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