Izumo-class destroyer

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JS Izumo(DDH-183)seen from the sky 10-03-2021.jpg
JS Izumo (DDH-183)
Class overview
NameIzumo class
BuildersJapan Marine United
Operators Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Preceded byHyūga class
Cost113.9 billion yen for construction of first unit
In commission2015–present
General characteristics
  • 19,500 tons standard;[1]
  • 26,000 tons full load[1]
Length248 m (813 ft 8 in)[1]
Beam38 m (124 ft 8 in)[1]
Draft7.5 m (24 ft 7 in)[1]
Depth23.5 m (77 ft 1 in)[1]
Installed power112,100 hp (83,600 kW)[1]
Speed30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)[1]
Complement520 including flag staffs[1]
Sensors and
processing systems
  • ATECS (advanced technology command system)
  • OYQ-12 combat direction system
  • OPS-50 AESA radar
  • OPS-28 surface-search radar
  • OQQ-23 bow sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys
  • NOLQ-3D-1 EW suite
  • Mark 36 SRBOC
  • Anti-torpedo mobile decoy (MOD)
  • Floating acoustic jammer (FAJ)
Aircraft carried
  • 7 ASW helicopters and 2 SAR helicopters[1]
  • 12 or more F-35B[2]
  • 28 aircraft V/STOL maximum

The Izumo-class destroyers (いずも型護衛艦, Izumo-gata-goei-kan) are helicopter destroyers in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).[3][4] The official classification of these ships is DDH (helicopter-carrying destroyer),[5] which is accepted by the United States Naval Institute;[3] in contrast, Jane's Fighting Ships describes this official classification, but the classification is simply "helicopter carrier".[4]

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.[6] Both ships of the class could operate STOVL Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II aircraft after modifications.


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.[7]

The ship carries up to 28 aircraft.[8] 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.[1] 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.[7]

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.[9] The ship has neither a "ski-jump" nor a catapult, typical features for launching fixed-wing aircraft.[10]

The construction of the first ship of the class began in 2011 at an IHI Marine United shipyard in Yokohama,[11] with funding totalling 113.9 billion yen ($1.5 billion) being set aside in the fiscal 2010 budget for this purpose.

Ships in the class[edit]

In September 2011, The Asahi Shimbun[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

Izumo was named after Izumo Province (出雲国, Izumo no kuni) (present-day Shimane Prefecture), and Kaga after Kaga Province (加賀国, Kaga no kuni) (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture).

Pennant no. Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDH-183 Izumo 27 January 2012[15] 6 August 2013[16] 25 March 2015[8] Yokosuka, Kanagawa
DDH-184[17] Kaga 7 October 2013 27 August 2015 22 March 2017 Kure, Hiroshima

Modifications to accommodate STOVL operations[edit]

A view of Izumo

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.[6]

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"[6] and has been described by the Chinese as an "aircraft-carrier in disguise."[18] Though called a destroyer, some experts[who?] believed the new Japanese ship could potentially be used in the future to launch fighter jets (F-35B) or other fixed wing aircraft.[6][9][18]

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.[19][20][21][22]

In December 2017, several sources including Reuters and Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Japanese government was contemplating modifying the Izumo class to operate F-35B STOVL aircraft.[23] Multiple plans were reportedly under consideration, some of which call for US Marine Corps F-35s to use the vessels while others for Japan to procure its own aircraft.[24][25] The plan quickly raised criticism from China, where government officials reacted negatively and urged Japan to "act cautiously".[26][27]

Later, in February 2018, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Japan was planning to acquire 40 F-35Bs, the Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which could be operated from the Izumo class with some modifications to the ships.[28][29] It was estimated that each Izumo-class carrier could operate 12 or more F-35B aircraft.[2] 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.[30] Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced on 27 November 2018 that Japan is considering buying F-35Bs within an order for an additional 100 F-35 aircraft,[31] and as a consequence modifying both Izumo-class helicopter carriers to operate F-35B were also considered.[32]

Approval of conversion[edit]

On 3 October 2021, the first F-35Bs performed landings and take-offs from JS Izumo

On 18 December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet gave approval to modify the Izumo class into de facto aircraft carriers.[33][34] The modifications will reinforce the decks of the Izumo-class ships to support the additional weight of F-35B, as well as the heat and forces from the jets during vertical landing.[33] Each vessel will also have the bow section of its flight deck, which is currently trapezoidal, modified into a square shape.[35] The ruling parties re-designated the Izumo-class ships to multi-purpose operation destroyers.[33][36][37] On 30 December 2019, Japanese Ministry of Defense approved the FY2020 budget that would finance the refurbishment of the Izumo class for F-35B operation.[38]

The United States Marine Corps plans to operate their own STOVL F-35s from Izumo-class ships in cooperation with the ship's crew to build up a Japanese capability to operate this type of aircraft. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has ordered 42 STOVL F-35Bs in 2019 and will operate them from land bases once delivered. In July 2021 it was indicated that of the 42 F-35B variants to be acquired, 18 will be introduced by FY2023, six in FY2024 and two in FY2025. These are to form a single squadron consisting of about 20 aircraft operating from the Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan. The base is located in close proximity to the JMSDF's Kure Base in Hiroshima Prefecture, which is the home port of JS Kaga.[39]

The Asahi Shimbun quotes Japan's Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya "The Izumo-class aircraft carrier role is to strengthen the air defense in the Pacific Ocean and to ensure the safety of the Self-Defense Force pilots." He also states, "there may be no runway available for the US aircraft in an emergency. I cannot say that the US F-35B should never be placed on an [JMSDF] escort vessel."[33][40]

In 2020, Izumo began the conversion process. Initial modifications include strengthening the heat resistance of the deck and installing power supply equipment to enable the departure and arrival of the F-35B. A second renovation, to change the bow shape to a quadrangle for the safe operation of the F-35B and the maintenance of the interior compartments, is scheduled to be carried out starting from the end of 2024.[41]

Kaga began her initial modifications in March 2022 at the Japan Marine United (JMU) shipyard in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture. The proposed modification of Kaga will be more extensive (and significantly more expensive) and includes changes to the shape of the bow. The initial modification of Kaga is expected to take 14 months, followed by a second modification of the ship’s interior, which is expected to begin in March 2027.[42]

On 3 October 2021, two USMC F-35Bs performed the first vertical landings and horizontal take-offs from JS Izumo, marking the first time in more than 75 years that a fixed-wing aircraft operated from a Japanese carrier.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kaijin-sha 2019, pp. 108–115.
  2. ^ a b "DDH-183 Izumo 22DDH Class Aircraft Carrier". Global Security. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b Wertheim 2013, pp. 360–361.
  4. ^ a b Saunders 2015, p. 436.
  5. ^ Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. "護衛艦「いずも」型" [DDH "IZUMO" Class] (in Japanese). Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d "Japan unveils new carrier-like warship, the largest in its navy since World War II". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 6 August 2013. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b Ministry of Defense. "平成21年度政策評価書(事前の事業評価)" (PDF). Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  8. ^ a b Hardy, James (25 March 2015). "Japan commissions helicopter carrier Izumo". janes.com. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  9. ^ a b Forecast International (21 June 2010). "Details of New Japanese 'Helicopter Destroyer'". Defensetalk.
  10. ^ Holm, Erik. "Japan launches biggest warship since WW2" (in Danish). Ingeniøren, 12 August 2013. Accessed: 12 August 2013.
  11. ^ "IHI、防衛省からヘリコプター搭載護衛艦を800億円で受注". Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun. 1 April 2011. Archived from the original on 17 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Defense Ministry plans second helicopter destroyer". The Asahi Shimbun. 17 September 2011. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
  13. ^ IHIMU、防衛省からヘリ搭載護衛艦を受注 (in Japanese). 1 October 2012. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  14. ^ Reynolds, Isabel (25 March 2015). "Japan's Biggest Warship Since World War II Enters Service". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  15. ^ "国内最大のヘリコプター搭載護衛艦の起工式を開催" (in Japanese). IHI Marine United. Archived from the original on 20 June 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  16. ^ Maritime Staff Office [in Japanese] (16 July 2013). 平成22年度護衛艦の命名・進水式について (PDF) (in Japanese). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Izumo class (22DDH) Helicopter Destroyer -JMSDF". navy-recognition.com. 11 August 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Japanese security: Wide-mouthed frog". The Economist. 10 August 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  19. ^ Radford, Philip (13 August 2013). "The ship that dare not speak its name". The Strategist. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  20. ^ "MSDF helicopter flattop Izumo designed as aircraft carrierT". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 23 February 2018.
  21. ^ Rogoway, Tyler (27 February 2018). "Officials Admit Japan's 'Helicopter Destroyers' Were Also Designed for Jets". TheDrive. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Like the Izumo Class? Just Wait for the Follow-on Class". United States Naval Institute. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  23. ^ Kubo, Nobuhiro; Kelly, Tim (26 December 2017). "Japan considers refitting helicopter carrier for stealth fighters: government sources". Reuters. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Govt eyes converting Izumo to aircraft carrier". The Japan Times (Yumiuri Shimbun). 26 December 2017. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  25. ^ Jennings, Gareth (27 December 2017). "Japan considers F-35B for carrier ops, national media reports". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  26. ^ Rahmat, Ridzwan (27 December 2017). "China urges Japan to 'act cautiously' on considerations to refit Izumo class for F-35Bs". IHS Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  27. ^ "China upset at Japan's plan to buy F-35B stealth fighter 'jump jets' for its helicopter carriers". News. 27 December 2017. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  28. ^ "F-35B jets eyed to defend remote isles / Fighters also mulled for MSDF's Izumo ship". Yomiuri Shimbun. 12 February 2018. Archived from the original on 20 February 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  29. ^ Keck, Zachary (18 February 2018). "Japan Might Buy as Many as 40 F-35B Fighters, Report States". The National Interest. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  30. ^ Tsuneoka, Chieko; Landers, Peter (20 March 2018). "Japan Seeks to Answer China With an Aircraft Carrier". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Japan to order 100 more F-35 fighters from US". Nikkei Asian Review. Tokyo. 27 November 2018. Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
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  33. ^ a b c d Lendon, Brad; Wakatsuki, Yoko (18 December 2018). "Japan to have first aircraft carriers since World War II". CNN. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  34. ^ Sim, Walter (19 December 2018). "Japan gives nod to first aircraft carriers since WWII, says move does not violate pacifist Constitution". The Straits Times. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  35. ^ Takahashi, Kosue (8 October 2020). "Japan's converted Izumo-class carriers will not feature a 'ski-jump' ramp for F-35B operations". Janes. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  36. ^ Fujiwara, Shinichi (6 December 2018). "Japan avoids flak by refusing to call flattop 'aircraft carrier'". The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  37. ^ Gady, Franz-Stefan (19 December 2018). "Japan Approves Plans to Convert Izumo-Class Into F-35-Carrying Aircraft Carriers". The Diplomat. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  38. ^ Inaba, Yoshihiro (30 December 2019). "Japan takes first steps towards refurbishment of JMSDF destroyer Izumo". Naval News. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  39. ^ Inaba, Yoshishiro (20 July 2021). "Japan's Izumo Helicopter Destroyer Modified To Operate F-35B Fighters". Naval News. Retrieved 9 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  40. ^ Vavasseur, Xavier (21 August 2019). "USMC To Fly First F-35B From Japan's Izumo-Class Aircraft Carriers". Naval News. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  41. ^ "Pictures of the new Japanese aircraft carrier JS Izumo after modifications". navyrecognition.com. 25 June 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  42. ^ Inaba, Yoshihiro (18 April 2022). "Japan Starts Conversion Work On Second Izumo-Class DDH". Naval News. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  43. ^ Brimelow, Benjamin (8 October 2021). "Japan is converting its 2 biggest warships into aircraft carriers, and US Marines are helping it train to use them". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)


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