Izumo-class helicopter destroyer
JS Izumo (DDH-183)
|Name:||Izumo-class helicopter destroyer|
|Builders:||Japan Marine United|
|Operators:||Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force|
|Preceded by:||Hyūga-class helicopter destroyer|
|Cost:||113.9 billion yen ($1.2 billion for construction of first unit to date)|
|Length:||248 m (814 ft)|
|Beam:||38 m (125 ft)|
|Draft:||7.5 m (25 ft)|
|Depth:||33.5 m (110 ft)|
|Installed power:||112,000 hp (84,000 kW)|
|Speed:||30 kn (56 km/h)|
|Complement:||970 including crew and troops|
|Sensors and |
|Electronic warfare |
The Izumo-class helicopter destroyer (いずも型護衛艦 Izumo-gata-goei-kan) or 22DDH is a helicopter carrier class constructed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The ships of this class are currently the largest surface combatants of the JMSDF, taking over the mantle previously held by the Hyūga-class helicopter destroyers. The lead ship was officially unveiled at Yokohama on 6 August 2013. In December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet gave approval to convert both ships into aircraft carriers capable of operating the F-35B.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) first announced plans for the class on 23 November 2009. This ship's primary mission is anti-submarine warfare (ASW) but peacekeeping and disaster relief operations are also being considered.
The ship carries up to 28 aircraft. However, only 7 ASW helicopters and 2 search and rescue (SAR) helicopters are planned for the initial aircraft complement. For other operations, 400 troops and 50 3.5 ton trucks (or equivalent equipment) can also be carried. The flight deck has 5 helicopter landing spots that allow simultaneous landings or take-offs. The ship is equipped with 2 Phalanx CIWS and 2 SeaRAM for its defense. The destroyers of this class were initially intended to replace the two ships of the Shirane class, which were originally scheduled to begin decommissioning in FY2014.
In 2010, Forecast International reported that some design features were intended to support fixed wing aircraft such as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, although neither the MOD nor the JMSDF have mentioned the possibility of introducing carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft. The ship has neither a "ski-jump" nor a catapult, typical features for launching fixed-wing aircraft. If the Izumo class were to operate fixed-wing aircraft, they would be limited to those capable of STOVL (short take-off, vertical landing) operations.
The construction of the first ship of the class began in 2011 at an IHI Marine United shipyard in Yokohama, with funding totalling 113.9 billion yen ($1.5 billion) being set aside in the fiscal 2010 budget for this purpose.
In December 2017, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Japanese government was considering modifying its Izumo-class helicopter destroyers to operate with roughly 10 F-35B aircraft. Multiple plans are reportedly under consideration, some of which call for US Marine Corps F-35s to use the vessels, but others for Japan to procure its own aircraft. The plan quickly raised criticism from China, where government officials reacted negatively and urged Japan to "act cautiously".
Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said on 27 November 2018 that Tokyo is considering buying the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and, as a consequence of this, modifying both Izumo-class helicopter carriers to facilitate F-35B operations.
Ships in the class
In September 2011, the Asahi Shinbun reported that the Ministry of Defence was to proceed with a budget request calling for funds for the construction of the planned second unit in the class. The request was approved and the construction contract was awarded to IHI Corporation in October 2012. This will come under the Defense Ministry's Mid-Term Defense Program FY2011-2015. The first ship in the class, Izumo was launched on 6 August 2013. The ship was commissioned on 25 March 2015.
|Pennant no.||Name||Laid down||Launched||Commissioned||Homeport|
|DDH-183||Izumo||27 January 2012||6 August 2013||25 March 2015||Yokosuka, Kanagawa|
|DDH-184||Kaga||7 October 2013||27 August 2015||22 March 2017||Kure, Hiroshima|
Future operational role
On 6 August 2013, JS Izumo was unveiled in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan. Japanese officials claimed it would be used in national defense, specifically citing anti-submarine warfare and border-area surveillance missions. Additionally, it is also asserted to bolster Japan's ability to transport personnel and supplies in response to large-scale disasters. This unveiling occurred at a time of heightened tensions over the Senkaku Islands.
The Washington Post noted that this ship - the biggest warship in Japan's fleet since World War II - "has raised eyebrows in China and elsewhere because it bears a strong resemblance to a conventional aircraft carrier" and has been described by the Chinese as an “aircraft-carrier in disguise”. Though called a destroyer, some experts believe the new Japanese ship could potentially be used in the future to launch fighter jets (F-35B) or other fixed wing aircraft. In December 2018, it was announced that both Izumo class warships would be refitted to carry F-35B fighter jets.
Japanese military sources confirmed that the possibility of operating fixed wing aircraft was incorporated into the design of the ships from the earliest stages of the Izumo program, but this was not made public because Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from possessing offensive military weapons such as aircraft carriers. The aircraft elevators and the deck paint were designed to handle aircraft like the F-35B, and it would be possible to add a ski-jump to the flight deck for STOVL operations.
In December 2017, Reuters reported that the Japanese government was contemplating modifying the Izumo class to operate F-35B STOVL aircraft. Later, in February 2018, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Japan was planning to acquire 40 vertical takeoff and landing F-35Bs, which could be operated from these ships with some alterations. In March that same year, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party called upon the Japanese government to develop its own aircraft carriers and operate F-35B aircraft, which has been thought to include refitting the Izumo class. In November 2018, Nikkei Asian Review reported that Japan was planning to procure the F-35B within an order for an additional 100 F-35 aircraft.
On 18 December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet gave approval to modify the Izumo-class into de-facto aircraft carriers. The modifications will reinforce the decks of the Izumo-class ships to support the additional weight of F-35B jets, as well as the heat and forces from the jets during vertical landing. The ruling parties re-designated the Izumo-class ships to Multi-Purpose Operation Destroyers.
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