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Japan releases images of refitted Izumo-class carrier

JS Kaga , seen here during its sea trials post-refit. (JMSDF)

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has released post-refit images of its Izumo-class helicopter carrier JS Kaga , which has been modified for F-35B aircraft operations.

These images were released by the service's Escort Flotilla 4 via its official social media page between 25 and 27 December and were taken during the vessel's post-refit sea trials, it added.

Kaga is the second of two Izumo-class helicopter carriers operated by the JMSDF. First-of-class JS Izumo was commissioned in March 2015 while Kaga was inducted in March 2017.

The 248 m class was conceived as helicopter carriers but has been built with weight and strength considerations for the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft.

In March 2022 a JMSDF spokesperson confirmed to Janes that Japan Marine United (JMU) has begun refit works on Kaga at the company's Kure shipyard in Kure City, Hiroshima.

The recent images released by Escort Flotilla 4 indicate that the refit works have mostly focused on the bow section of its flight deck, which now features two symmetrical right angles instead of the trapezoidal shape that it was originally designed with.

As a result of these modifications, Kaga appears to have gained additional flight deck space in its forward section and between one and two metres in overall length.

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