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Japan aims to own aircraft carrier loaded with combat aircraft

Japan aims to own aircraft carrier loaded with combat aircraft

Posted December. 27, 2017 07:27,   

Updated December. 27, 2017 07:42


The Japanese government is considering the plan of renovating the deck of 19,500-ton Izumo, the largest escort ship, to make it into an aircraft carrier, which the combat aircraft can take off from or make a landing on, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Tuesday. If the operation starts in 2020 as planned, Japan will become the 11th country in the world that owns an aircraft carrier, following China.

According to the report, the Japanese government is considering a plan to install a ski jump ramp on Izumo, which can currently load 14 helicopters on, to load 10 F-35Bs, the top-of-the-line stealth combat aircraft. “The deck will be renovated, including making it more heat-resistant to endure the heat from the jet engine of F-35B,” the newspaper added.

Izumo has a 248-meter-long and 38-meter-wide deck, which makes it the largest escort ship owned by Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). It is the key military power of JMSDF, which costed 120 billion yen for building. As it looks similar to an aircraft carrier, it was eval‎uated as “practically an aircraft carrier” since it launched.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has been maintaining its stance that it will not own an aircraft carrier loaded with combat aircrafts, under the rule of “exclusively defensive security,” which allows to practice defense only when attacked.

“It will be used for purposes such as defending deserted islands, while maintaining the existing policy,” Yomiuri reported. “Japanese military is introducing the operation of U.S. Army’s F-35B combat aircrafts.” It can be interpreted that when the enemy invades a deserted island, it will be used to deliver the U.S. Army’s combat aircrafts to a nearby place, and to provide fuel. Japan’s Ministry of Defense will include the cost for surveys related to the renovation of the deck in the budget bill of 2019.

Japan is trying to own an aircraft carrier, despite the controversy on becoming a military power, in order to correspond to China’s “rise of the aircraft carrier.” Chinese Navy launched Liaoning in 2012, which was made by renovating a retired aircraft carrier from Post-Soviet States, and it held a launching ceremony of Shandong, the first aircraft carrier made in China, in April 2017.

“If the U.S. Army base in Japan is destroyed in an emergency situation, Izumo will serve as a temporary runway,” the Japanese newspaper said. “This is to reinforce the alliance between the United States and Japan to handle the threats from North Korea and China.”

Won-Jae Jang peacechaos@donga.com