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Izumo Upgrade

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DDH-183 いずも (5).jpg
JS Izumo (DDH-183). By Kaijō Jieitai (海上自衛隊 / Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)- CC BY 4.0

Japan has decided to go for it.

Japan appears to be prepared to take the next step to convert its Izumo-class helicopter destroyers into VSTOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) aircraft carriers. According to several sources, the Japanese government has effectively decided to upgrade JS Izumo and JS Kaga to operate the F-35B Lighting II VSTOL stealth fighter. Studies conducted earlier this year concluded that such modification would be feasible, if deemed strategically necessary.

More on this later, but obviously I roll my eyes at the inevitable “aircraft carriers are just big targets” comment that appears somewhere in these threads. The US, UK, Japan, India, and China have all decided to invest heavily in carriers. It is definitely true that states have made systemic errors of resource allocation with respect to military procurement before; the case of battleships in the inter-war period is often misunderstood, but it’s not wrong to say that there were significant analytical errors that spanned across several navies. That said, it’s important to note that naval authorities, who know quite a lot about the vulnerability of aircraft carriers, continue to see a great deal of value in the platform.

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