The Japanese Nikkei business newspaper reported today that the Japanese government is preparing to order another 100 F-35 jets, in addition, the country is once more considering converting a helicopter carrier to host jets.

They report that the fighters are to replace some of Japan’s aging F-15s, citing unnamed sources. Japan had earlier planned to procure around 42 F-35As.

Japan is also once again considering transforming a helicopter destroyer into an aircraft carrier that can accommodate ‘multi purpose aircraft such as the F-35B’ say local media, citing a government source.

This latest report appears to solidify earlier claims that the option of converting an Izumo class helicopter carrier to operate F-35Bs was being considered. Local media in Japan had previously reported previously that the main governing Liberal Democratic Party plans to propose introducing F-35B fighter jets and a multi-purpose aircraft carrier.

Earlier in the year, the LDP panel on national security compiled a set of proposals to be considered. The panel stressed the need to enhance Japan’s defence capabilities both in quality and quantity.

The panel wants the Japanese Defense Ministry to acquire F-35B stealth jets, which can take off from short runways. The panel will also reportedly call for procuring a multi-purpose aircraft carrier “that can also serve as a hospital ship”. Retrofitting of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s destroyer Izumo is to be listed as an option.

As we reported recently, before this March 20th confirmation, conversion of the existing Izumu class helicopter carriers was rumoured as an option for the F-35Bs Japan wants to purchase.

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. It’s aircraft elevator was reportedly designed to be able to carry the aircraft.


  1. I wish the UK were as committed to defence as the Japanese.

    The numbers they have on a smaller budget are embarrassing for us.

    Yes I know we have several high end capabilities they lack.
    We should be able to have both.

    • To be fair, Japan has Russia to the North, China to the South West and “Rocket Man” due West, with all three countries having a recent poor history with Japan. The F35B would be ideal for Japan as like Taiwan and Sweden they make extensive use of the road infrastructure as standby airstrips. I am pretty certain if we had a nut job of a neighbour or a country with bad history, our Armed Forces wouldn’t be in such a poor state as we find them today. Oh wait, didn’t we have issues with France, Spain and Iceland?

        • That’s because they don’t have expensive carriers or an expensive nuclear deterrent, and a lot of their equipment is off the shelf from the US or licence built from the US.

          • The government had made some horrendous decisions that have wasted billions with little to show for it. Nimrod, T45, T26 and Fres decision delays skyrocketed the delivery costs to maintain industry all resulting in cuts to what was eventually purchased.

          • BB85 wrote:
            The government had made some horrendous decisions that have wasted billions with little to show for it.

            The MOD spent a lot of money the other year in purchasing rainbow flags which were sent to every military establishment in the land, which are to be run up when needed. I’m all for equality, but what a waste of f-ing money. Meanwhile I have just come across this tweet:

      • @DaveyB – Why write ‘Oh wait?’. Why not use your brains and make your point without resorting to silliness? As for Iceland, they won the cod wars with a few gun boats didn’t they?

      • Yes Japan has enemies on their doorstep. We do however have a resurrgent Russia not that far away. With an ever growing and capable submarine fleet and a willingness to push the boundaries and see how far they can go.
        For me the UK needs to urgently address the utterly weak state of the navy.
        More than 8 type 26s need to be built
        A follow on batch of another 3-4 Astute class, retain the last 3 Trafalgar class and refit them until more astute class can be built
        Type 31 needs to be a capable frigate and not just fitted for but not with or armed with a pop pop gun on the forecastle only
        Time to rearm and show the world global Britain mean business

      • I’m not sure there would be any potential future in which Iceland could become an existential threat to the UK, other then it turning into a super volcano and erupting.

  2. “They are considering converting one of their ships”. Lol, Didn’t see that coming ! Nope, not even an inkling, (Where’s the rolling eyes Icon when you need it ?).

  3. Actually though, fair play to them, they have seen the threat building for decades now and actually kept their eye on it. History tells a sorry tale when it comes to Japans treatment of the Chinese and they are right to be concerned. Revenge is best served, Sweet and Sour !

          • “Racism” Where ? if you see anything Racist then God help us all. It’s historical fact that Japan and China have been Enemies for Centuries, rather than looking to play the Racist card why don’t you think about the other reason for my comment about China exacting revenge which would probably be Sweet for them and Sour for Japan. No Racism here mate try FB, Twitter and all the other places if you want to pick an argument.

          • This highlights nicely the problems mounting in this country.

            PC snowflake culture gone Stark Raving Mad.

            In no universe WHATSOEVER can that be construed as racist.

            Are there calls of racism against the SNP for their constant tirade towards the English?
            Are the Australians calling the English Poms being racist?

            The Captain is right. God help us all. What has the system done to people?

          • It is China that called itself the Middle Kingdom, and referred to outsiders as foreign devils. The Han people are the most successful imperialists in the world.

    • I was perhaps rash to say ‘gents’ as your reference to stereotypical Chinese food isn’t really racist, but ‘pwarn cwackers’ is.

      • You say my reference “is not really racist”. Mate It’s not racist at all I think you’re a little bit too sensitive.

        • Lay off would you, the comment clearly wasn’t aimed at you and the indisputable fact remains that T.S’s response to it was racist. Phil’s concerns about communities like this one being seen as racist are well founded as it is often used as ammunition by those who would seek to undermine the credible points that we make.

  4. Notice the line “procurement of a multi-purpose carrier”. I’m translating that to mean not just the modification to the Izumo class which were designed with the F35 in mind (the Invincibles could have operated the F35B since it was deliberately sized for the class’s elevators) but the future build of a full fixed wing CV operating F35Cs. The Japanese are not going to stand by while the PLAN develops fixed wing carrier strike capabilities and threaten the (very) widely dispersed islands that make up the Japanese archipelago. They’re just easing the Japanese public into it with the Izumo mods.


      • Would love it if the Japanese purchased a cats and traps or even STOVL QE class ship. Especially if built in UK. The AE class is without any doubt the most cost effective and efficient large carrier design ever produced.

    • Even better, sell them the CATOBAR design for it. The QE’s are exactly the right size for the needs of the JMSDF and Japan would save a bundle by going with an already existing and proven design.


      • Would be a great boost for the UK defense industry but a capital ship like that would have to be built in a sovereign yard. However, I’m sure the Japanese would hire a large number of experienced “advisors” at a very good recompense to help them. The propulsion and many components could be built in the UK plus the benefits of licensing proprietary build techniques. It would still be a huge win for Britain – much as the T26 is turning out to be.


    • Mdpepa, no we will not lease the the POW. Why the heck would we do that? She has been built to serve our nation as our flagship and strike carrier. The Royal navy needs her. You would not want to be like France with a single carrier only operational less than 50% of the time.
      QE class should have much better operational availability the Charles Dr Gaulle which is mostly in refit or repair, the French should have continued with their PA2 design and got a conventionally powered QE class in service.

  5. We should be following suit here; buy another 30 or so F35s and accelerate delivery of them. Stand up 6 squadrons instead of 4.

  6. I have to question the point of such a decision. Obviously they were intending all along to have this option with how they were designed but in terms of wider strategy I’m not seeing the benefit. Japan’s own constitution nullified the benefits a carrier brings and whilst Shinzo is indeed trying to change it, those are only small changes to how it’s interpreted, not the wholesale change that would be needed to allow intervention/invasion in far flung countries across the globe. Japan’s forces are purely defense orientated in strategy and equipment, as it should be when confronted by the calibre of enemies on their doorstep. If anything they should be investing in anti ship weaponry to counter China’s growing navy which already dwarfs it’s Japanese counterpart. A carrier in such congested and contested waters with Japan and it’s own airfields close by would be of no use

    • You mean the Constitution they are amending to suit the current problems. Along with the fact that “defense” can be creatively interpreted.
      The PLAN has more ships than Japan however the Japanese Navy is superior in technology, training, equipment, and quality. Same goes for the Army and Air Force. Also war is won by initiative not by hunkering down especially if you are the smaller country.

      On Anti-Ship weapons the Japanese have a very mature domestic missile industry already and are partners with the US on missile design. Along with being one of few countries usually exempt from American arms and industrial barriers for military technology. Allowing them to produce American or American derived weapons domestically.

      • The JSDF has actually already been fielding truck launched ASMs for several years on remote islands to both defend the sparsely populated region and to create a gauntlet the PLAN would have to run to get to the open sea in event of war. Combined with the JMSDF’s very considerable and growing SSK force and fast attack craft. It certainly has to give Chinese planners pause. Especially if there are several JMSDF carrier groups hiding among the numerous islands of the area ready to pounce.


      • Incorrect Elliot, they aren’t amending it as that would require a large majority Shinzo doesn’t have. What’s he’s trying to do is change how the self defense section is interpreted so Japan can help allies under attack if doing so would stop an attack on Japan itself. So carriers are still of dubious use.

        Also, hunkering down is exactly what Japan needs to do. In fact it’s the ONLY thing they can do. At the height of their power and faced with a divided and weak China they still couldn’t beat them simply from how huge and populated China is. That’s not to say China is unbeatable. But Japan’s hope in victory lies in keeping Japan free until the US can arrive before they go on the offensive. So hunkering down on the defense it is.

        • I suggest you actually read the Japanese news and talk to people in Japan before you make those statements. First the sections of Article 9 in the process of being amended and which he likely does have a bare majority of votes for would extend the definition of “self-defense” to “collective self-defense” by deleting the second paragraph. While also adding that the SDF is explicitly not war potential in a third paragraph codifying constitutionally what is already law de facto. There by allowing a greater build up of arms.
          As for China at the height of Japan’s power in WWII? China to put it mildly got it’s ass kicked despite the Communists and Nationalists putting their civil war on hold. The only reason they were able to survive at all was the fact China was both given and able to purchase massive amounts of ordnance from America and the West. With the second reason being that Japan as a primarily Naval power was unable to project it’s forces far enough into the mainland. The narrative of “poor divided China” has been China’s excuse for every military disaster they ever had.
          China has not won a full scale foreign war no matter who was in power since the Mongol Invasion. The PLA has a few divisions with modern equipment that look good on camera but almost all of their combat power tied up in internal security. Reinforcing the MSS who have a budget nearly the size of the entire Chinese Armed Forces.
          So if Japan along with already present American, Australian, and South Korean forces in the region are able to coordinate then offensive action is preferred as it would trap the Chinese against the coast and islands owned by American allies or at least Chinese enemies (Vietnam). The only other option would be for the Chinese to remain in ports to both save their ships and have them reinforce the air defenses there.
          China in this type of situation would likely see the reap the whirlwind of it’s choices in the twentieth century. As India sensing both weakness and Chinese distraction would invade from the west to restore Nepal as a buffer zone. Vietnam who already has been increasing defense ties with the US and has a deep ancestral hatred of China would likely enter the war and allow itself to be used as a base by the US and Japan to reclaim the pre 1979 border.
          Taiwan which with each generation born on the island sees itself more as Taiwanese and less Chinese. Would act as a unsinkable aircraft carrier and a launch pad for constant cruise missile strikes.
          This would give the US and Japan a minimum 2 separate ground routes into China without having to go through the trouble of launching a Amphibious assault.
          Add to this that both the US and Japan have or are building extensive missile defense systems in addition to being protected by distance in regards to population and military production centers. While most of China’s population, industry, and arable land are along the coast and there for within reach of what would be allied bombardment and defoliants. While any attempt to move industry west would place itself in India’s line of attack.

          In conclusion there is no benefit to standing on the defensive and allowing the Chinese to breakout of the nooses around their necks. Which would occur by allowing their fleet time to seize enough islands between the Philippines and Japan. To prevent this maximum pressure would have to be applied from both the JMSDF (Japanese subs, destroyers, frigates, landing ships and soon carriers) and US Navy (US Pacific Fleet likely reinforced by Atlantic Fleet) along with South Korea’s for it’s size capable Navy of comprising of subs, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and long range patrol craft (all corvettes patrol craft in the RKN armed with AS missiles), and Amphibs to round out the numbers.
          All of this likely anchored in the south near Singapore by Australia and the again relative for their population large and capable RAN.

          All of this argues in some future crisis to seize the initiative and force the Chinese to come to terms. Hopefully before a ground invasion and large scale bombardment of the Chinese mainland to include direct attacks on civilian infrastructure to include roads, bridges, railways, power stations, dams, and arable land becomes necessary. If in the all to likely even the PRC does not come to terms in that scenario this at least leaves Japan, the US and their allies in a much better position to continue the war on their terms.

          • Not suggesting a full invasion of China per sea but intervention to keep them from the South East Asian Countries cutting them off from their primary food supplies in Southeast Asia. Where the terrain also favors American, Japanese, Vietnamese and the Thai (who the US also has a defense agreement with) forces as it highly restricts the movement of heavy mechanized forces. While favoring those with who practice air and sea mobility. If cutoff from trade by sea and forced onto their insufficient domestic food supplies, the Chinese would be wholly dependent on the SE Asian countries. Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and especially Vietnam are the breadbasket of Asia so cutting China off from it is imperative.
            Along with a limited campaign backed by US air support in Western China where India has a crushing advantage in terrain and local population. While the Chinese would have to cross both the Gobi desert and a mountain range. Their central government can’t trust the local population as in Tibet their is always simmering revolt while Xinjiang same story so any Chinese reinforcements have to come from the east. So provided war in the east India would most likely move in and lop off chunks to restore the old buffer states as Indian puppets.

  7. Having spent much of my adult life in Hong Kong, Japan and Beijing – if I was the Japanese I’d buy two hundred.

    Western media hardly ever reports this – but China is becoming increasingly shrill and nationalistic, clamping down on free speech and indulging in brainwashing on an industrial scale. The daily newspapers are shrill and warmongering and full of historic grudges against Japan.

    Japan on the other hand is dripping wet and far more pacifist than Germany.

    There will be a shooting war soon – another reason why the UK has to up its naval power by a serious amount.

  8. Another post worth a read regarding the Japanese in Asia. Singapore opened their Changi Naval Base in 2001 and have had over 2000 visiting ships from the US, India, China, Japan etc etc since then.

    The Thai Navy has visited the most for obvious reasons (transit point between their two coast lines) but its the JMSDF in no.2 spot! They’ve been doing a lot more OOA ops then I was aware of.

  9. It seems to me that “Global Britain” could do itself a favour and seriously talk to the Japanese and South Koreans about joint projects and sales. The Q E design idea seems a good idea…why would they go CATOBAR given the waters they move in.

    One thing about this government making “horrendous decisions”. Nimrod, the delays and cost escalations with the T45 , delays with the T26 (twelve years) and FRES all happened under Labour.

    We may not like all the decisions the government has made but beware the alternative!!

  10. Had suggested this last year maybe worth a revisit.

    December 22, 2017 at 8:48 pm
    With increased cooperation between Japan and the UK on Defence matters would it be worth exploring the opportunities around the F35B.

    The increased tensions with North Korea, the Rise of Chinese Naval Power including Carrier Air Power and the competing claims in The South China Sea create the need for effective deterrent defence.

    Japan has the Izumo Class Helicopter Carriers. Which have the potential to operate F-35B however this could prove difficult politically and constitutionally. To overcome this Japan could invest in perhaps a number of F-35B enough to generate a Squadron of about a dozen aircraft. These would be based in the UK with jointed UK Japanese training maintenance etc.
    Included in this would be Carrier operations on The QE/POW and the training of deck handlers etc. This would give the Japanese a Carrier capable seedcorn squadron to enable a quicker regeneration of Carrier Airpower if required. Plus on QE/POW deployments to Japan , South China Sea etc the QE/POW could then Potentially Field 24 UK And 12 Japanese F-35B and could also be supported with a few Japanese escort ships on these deployments. This would send a Strong message of UK support for Allies and Interests in the region.

  11. Sorry,

    I don’t see the Japanese taking on Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, they are for all intents and purposes offensive weapon systems for projecting power…. this goes against just about everything the post war Japanese Constitution and population want.. the Japanese Military are a self defence force

    I think it’s far more likely that they will either modify the Izumo class for carrying a small number of F35’s, or commission a modified Izumo purpose build for operating Asw helicopters and F35b’s….

    • The Japanese are very pragmatic and they realize that the post war constitution no longer applies in today’s world and in the future. True there is still a very strong pacifist streak in the population but the threat facing the country from China and its aggressive moves in the region have basically convinced the majority of the population that they need a modernized and traditional armed forces structure vs just the defensive forces of the current JSDF.

      The Japanese are also very thorough about things. It’s been obvious to Japan watchers that the JMSDF has been building up to a full sized carrier for quite a long time with the introduction of its flat decked “helicopter destroyer classes. The actual chances of Japan buying a QE class are almost non existent – too bad. I assure you that somewhere within the Japanese Defense Ministry lie the fully developed plans for a full sized CATOBAR carrier to be built within this coming decade. It probably WILL be a stretched and modified version of the Izumos. Most Japanese warship classes are developments of the previous classes much like the USN ABs. Why mess with a successful design?

      Full disclosure: My Mother is Japanese and lived through the U.S. bombings of Japan during WWII – had three homes bombed out from under her as a teenager and she still has nightmares of the B29 firebombing raids – much as older Britons who endured the Blitz must have. However, she – and I’m sure a majority of British WW II era citizens feel the same about the UK’s armed forces – is firmly for an expansion of Japan’s armed forces to meet China’s threat – in a position of strength.

      Such is the historical enmity towards China in Japan and always has been. The only people the Japanese as a culture dislike more are the Koreans for some odd reason…


      • My experience has been that Japanese society is built on collaboration and common purpose across society.

        Chinese society is structured on devotion and obedience to the state.

        Korean society is pretty much built on open conflict and hostility to anyone and anything that doest share your view or perspective in society.

        Maybe over simplistic but it’s how I’ve experienced and observed it.


      • Probably the whole 900 year history of invading each other, we had the same thing with the french up until the beginning of the 20th century (Hence the general oddness of WW1).

  12. Interesting comment and post.

    What’s going on with America’s next fighter designs?

    “The F-35 experience has effectively killed jointness and international partnerships, for now at least,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group.
    That may be the right approach if the U.S. is truly concerned about security, noted Callan.

    “The F-35 is a compromised design in a lot of ways,” Callan said. “You have to assume the Chinese know a lot about that plane from what they’ve been able to siphon off from theft or cyber means. There may be less incentive for the U.S to partner on a program like this if the goal is to have something that is really technological[ly] advanced and unique. The bigger the partnership, the more potential leakage points.”

  13. So if the famously diligent and pragmatic Japanese are considering a split F35 A/B buy, is it still taboo to suggest we might do the same?

    Most people on here want to smother you in your sleep after they’ve spent 2 hours telling you what a clueless waster you are for bringing this up.

    To them I say, Miso even less convinced than ever by your ranting.

    • Tricky subject. You could save money on the purchase but potentially spend more on training and maintenance of the two as there’d be differences between the two.

      For me I think the number of total airframes is a bigger issue than what they actually are such as F35a or b.

      I think we should do one of the following.

      – More F35bs and the extra given to FAA to improve carrier strike capability.
      – More Typhoons and use that as the sole RAF platform, then give the F35bs to the RN.

      – 10 frontline squadrons of Typhoons and 5 frontline of F35
      – 7 of Typhoons and 8 of F35

    • Bit of a tricky subject.

      F35a would be more suitable for the RAF and may have greater range and payload, and be cheaper per airframe, but the cost of training and maintenance of the two separate types could potentially negate any per-airframe savings of F35a.

      To me number of airframes is more important than what they are. Whether F35a, b, both, or even more Typhoons instead, we need a boost in overall numbers.

      • If more funding could be secured I’d say we should have one of the following:
        – 7 squadrons of Typhoons, 4-5 of F35b for the FAA and 4 squadrons of F35a for the RAF.
        -7 squadrons of Typhoons and 6-8 squadrons of F35b.
        – 10 squadrons of Typhoons and 5 squadrons of F35b.

          • Being realistic though, We are soon to lose the Tornado’s and the Typhoon fleet will never be operated at the full order level. We have a drip feed of F35’s over a couple of decades and That’s It, Until we might see some nice new Shiny Tempests. It’s all about numbers and production times though and That’s the worrying thing. It’s the same throughout the British armed forces at the moment Great Technology. Fantastic Forces, Minimum numbers, Crap shortsighted Government. Does this sound Familiar ??????


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