Japan is officially drawing up plans to acquire the F-35B, according to local media.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, said that Shinzo Abe’s administration “is planning to indicate the number of [F-35B] aircraft to be procured in the next Medium Term Defense Program, which is to be compiled at the end of this year.”

The story went on to report that the Abe government is “mulling including related expenses in the fiscal 2019 budget plan, with a view to starting the delivery of F-35Bs from around fiscal 2024.”

The article also notes the F-35B would be the perfect aircraft if Japan wanted to operate fixed-wing aircraft from its Izumo class helicopter destroyers, an idea that Tokyo was considering late last year.

The 248-metre long Izumo, Japan’s largest warship equipped with a flat flight deck, was designed with an eye to hosting F-35B fighters. Its elevator connecting the deck with the hangar can carry the 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. These plans quickly raised criticism from China, where government officials reacted negatively and urged Japan to “act cautiously”.

47 COMMENTS

  1. “Act cautiously”

    Looks like China is happy to build up its military but does not want other regional powers to do likewise.

    How much would one of these LPH cost?

  2. Japan is vulnerable to a first strike attack on its airfields, so the F35b is an ideal tool to have in its locker. The ability to forward deploy on its flat tops in defence of contested islands is the next logical step, presumably why the Chinese don’t like the idea. Recent talks between the UK and Japan on defence matters no doubt touched on the RN sharing their experience of operating stovl aircraft at sea . The UK has an agreement with the USMC on operating from the UK’s carriers and I dare say something similar will be done with the Japanese.

    • The last time the RN helpee the Japanese develop carriers it didnt end well. Although in this case i think we can give them a second chance.

    • Bloke down by the pub
      “Recent talks between the UK and Japan on defence matters no doubt touched on the RN sharing their experience of operating stovl aircraft at sea . The UK has an agreement with the USMC on operating from the UK’s carriers and I dare say something similar will be done with the Japanese.”

      Hate to burst your bubble bloke but the JMSDF has far more experience operating alongside the US Navy than the RN. The JMDSF has trained alongside the USMC for decades and they know full well the capabilities of the operating STOVL on amphibious ships.

        • Tell that to the JMSDF and the USN & USMC.
          To the Japanese, there is only one country they’ll go to for advice on military matters.
          They have decades of experience. Training together. The JMSDF will go to the USN & USMC for guidance on operating the F35B from their ships.
          The US and Japan have defense agreements that go back to after WW2. We(USA) helped rebuild the Japanese military. The US has tens of thousands of military personal stationed in Japan.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Forces_Japan

          https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/09/what-is-the-us-militarys-presence-in-south-east-asia

          The Seventh Fleet
          “Headquartered in Japan, the Seventh Fleet is the largest of the US navy’s deployed sea forces, with roughly 50­-70 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

          The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier, is permanently deployed at Yokosuka, Japan, as the fleet’s flagship carrier.

          The fleet also includes up to 14 destroyers and cruisers at any given time, some armed with ballistic missile interceptors, long­-range Tomahawk land attack missiles and anti­-aircraft missiles. Up to 12 nuclear-powered submarines are also available.”

          Like I said, if the Japanese have any questions on Naval matters, they’ll go to the USA, not the UK.

    • They where built from the outset to carry the F35B, they are far to large just to carry rotary aircraft making todays annoucement as predictable as Man city winning the PL

    • If you’re referring to the thermal coating the QE carriers got to enable the F35b jet blast, this is a complex and time consuming operation – and very pricey.

      • I thought the process was simple. They used 3D printing technique. Unique at the time but Japan and 3D are almost inseperable.

      • No their constitution only forbids weapons of offensive war. Carriers status as that has been in legal limbo since the US (who the Japanese normally cite in legislation for defense) changed their designation. Prior to 1970s CVA – Carrier Attack
        CVA(N) – Carrier Attack Nuclear, CVL – Carrier Light, CVS -Carrier Anti-Submarine. After 1975 CV – Carrier, CVN – Carrier Nuclear, everything else LHA or LHD. Perfectly non aggressive designations under very narrow interpretations of Japanese and US law.
        The Japanese Government have also been amending or subtly reinterpreting Article 9 for decades. That rate has been greatly increased by Kim in North Korea lobbing rockets and China claiming their territory. So they could just right into law, “it’s not a offensive Carrier it is a large anti-submarine weapon with air cover”. Never underestimate legal maneuvering example- moving pensions to the defense budget to say “yes we met are 2% goal.” Not wrong wholey within the letter of the treaty, but not honest either.

      • Surely they can’t work around the constitution by trying to define ships as things they are not. I know that they have operated ‘helicopter destroyers’ or whatever they call them for a while now, but the moment a large flat top has f35b on it it’s not really fooling anyone. I think I also heard they want to change the constitution. Makes more sense than saying a carrier isn’t a carrier anyway.

  3. Why are people so surprised?
    It was common knowledge that this was the ‘possible’ long term plan, to get round their none offensive status.

    This will take some of the burden off The US, especially with Australia developing/acquiring similar platforms.

    We have to accept, that the region has become militarised, to the point of: Prevention being better than Cure.

  4. The Japanese could build a flat top- the Izumo class is a carrier for goodness sake, they just label them as anti submarine destroyers- or in terms of true aircraft carriers they could name them as “forward bases” or “heavy surface ships”. I would love it if the QE class was purchased by another country- they are amazing ships and probably represent the best conventional powered carrier that can be built at this time. Would be even better if we constructed them for the Japanese.
    F35B is definitely what the Japanese need and should order- say 48 aircraft for the 2-3 Izumo class and a further 36 to equip their soon to be constructed QE class carrier or carriers.
    Chinese would then have a peer nation to face off with their new carriers other than the US navy. QE would win any day of the week against the PLAN type 001 and 001A class carriers- not sure about their proposed nuclear design the 002- this would probably be a true super carrier with EMALS and arrestor gear.
    The Izumo class would need to have areas of their flight deck thermally treated like the QE flight deck to allow STOVL F35B to land in a rolling fashion- only the UK has the technology and experience of doing this using plasma torches to blow hardened compounds that are highly thermally resistant onto the flight deck- cost is high but this thermal treatment can withstand temperatures of 4000 degrees Celsius.

  5. Maybe and this is a good idea… hold on to your hats here folks
    Maybe we build the Japanese 2 QE carriers for £6 billion and they build us 3 LPH versions of the Izumo class for £3 billion- net gain is £ 3 billion to the UK but crucially the RN gets the ships it wants and needs desperately to act as escort carriers, anti submarine carriers and landing platform helicopters. Crucially freeing up the QE class to do their designated task- that of strike carrier and providing air defence and deep strike penetration using 5th generation stealth jump jets.
    Come on HMG a deal needs to be done here.

    • Brilliant idea. But.

      Don’t forget the men needed to crew them though.

      Also we do not have enough helicopters or F35B to actually stock them.

      2 QEC and also 3 LPH is a rather big uplift to what we have had recently.

      Lets just pray for no more serious cuts and sensible uplifts in certain areas.

      Plus a sustainable defence budget run properly, without Successor making a hole in it.

  6. The Australians considered (briefly) the possibility of operating F35b’s from their Canberra class LPD’s but decided against it because of the expense and complexities of incorporating the aircraft into the ships complements.
    The ship would need new fuel lines & storage facilities, new radar systems,additional logistic and engineering support, hanger changes, instrument landing systems, and all that’s before you get to fortifying the deck with heat resistant materials, and specialist training for the pilots and maintainers.
    There has already been problems with the Canberra class before all this.
    Although if the will was there I am sure it could be done, after all the Spanish Juan Carlos I carrier (on which the Canberra’s are based) currently have harriers on then which are planned to be replaced by F35B’s in time. The Australian vessels do have ski-jumps on them, relating to their Spanish lineage.
    The Japanese would no doubt make it work if they wanted to go down this route with the help of their US allies, but operating fifth gen fighters from aircraft carriers isn’t a simple business, which is why few countries will be capable doing it over the next few years..

  7. From another source the Japanese require the F35B to deploy and operate from its many islands rather than a carrier capability

  8. […] Japan is officially drawing up plans to acquire the F-35B, according to local media. The Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, said that Shinzo Abe’s administration “is planning to indicate the number of [F-35B] aircraft to be procured in the next Medium Term Defense Program, which is to be compiled at the end of this year.” The story went on to report that the Abe government is “mulling including related expenses in the fiscal 2019 budget plan, with a view to starting the delivery of F-35Bs from around fiscal 2024.” The article also notes the F-35B would be the perfect aircraft if Japan wanted to operate fixed-wing aircraft from its Izumo class helicopter destroyers, an idea that Tokyo was considering late last year. The 248-metre long Izumo, Japan’s largest warship equipped with a flat flight deck, was designed with an eye to hosting F-35B fighters. Its elevator connecting the deck with the hangar can carry the 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. These plans quickly raised criticism from China, where government officials reacted negatively and urged Japan to “act cautiously”. Measure Measure Source […]

  9. It could only be good news from a UK perspective for another big country to adopt the B variant because it would be another voice interested in getting stuff into the B’s shorter internal weapons bay, maybe conformal and/or stealthy(ish) drop tanks and other stuff to increase range, etc, etc. The more people in the F-35B camp the more development attention it is likely to get.

  10. This must be wrong. I was under impression that you couldn’t possibly operate F35bs from any ship less than 70000 tons.Perhaps a ship of that size would have a built-in amphibious capability,no?

    • The Italians plan to use the F35B from the Cavour and possibly their planned LHA, both ships displace about 30,000 tons.

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