Finally! Japan to launch its first aircraft carrier since WWII equipped with F-35 super-fighter jets
Tokyo will launch its first aircraft carriers since the end of World War II to accommodate a growing number of stealth fighters, long-range missiles and other equipment adding to the Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF).
The guidelines approved at a meeting of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet call for refitting the Izumo helicopter carrier into a ship that can deploy expensive, US-made F-35B stealth fighters capable of short take-offs and vertical landings.
The work would be done over five years and the ship would carry 10 stealth fighters, while the refitting of a second helicopter carrier into a second aircraft carrier would follow.
The Prime Minister’s guidelines would replace the current defence plan halfway through its intended lifespan and underscore Mr Abe’s push to expand Japan’s military role and capability to make it, as he puts it, “a normal country.”
Defence officials say Japan needs better deterrence and increased missile defence and fighter capability as North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats remains unchanged in the absence of concrete steps to dismantle them, and China’s maritime activity has grown increasingly assertive.
In its 10-year Defense Program Guidelines, Tokyo said it will buy 42 of the stealthy F-35Bs, which are designed for short-run take offs and vertical landings.
Those planes will be available for deployment aboard two flat-top ships, the JS Izumo and JS Kaga, which at more than 800 feet long and displacing 27,000 tons are the largest ships in the Japanese fleet.
“Under the drastically changing security environment around Japan, the government will take all possible measures to protect the lives and assets of Japanese people,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday in announcing the plan.
“The review of the new defense guideline is extremely meaningful to show the Japanese people and the world what is truly necessary in our defense to protect the people and to serve as the cornerstone of the future (for the Japan Self-Defense Forces).”
The new guidelines listed China, North Korea and Russia, as well as the United States and NATO, as entities with massive military capabilities with which Japan must concern itself.