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Japan starts conversion of second Izumo helicopter carrier

A United States Marine Corps F-35B is pictured conducting take-off and landings in October 2021 from JS Izumo , the first of two Japanese helicopter carriers that is being converted into a full-fledged aircraft carrier. (JMSDF)

Japan has started converting the second of two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers capable of supporting the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

A JMSDF spokesperson told Janes on 31 March that Japan Marine United (JMU) recently started refit work on JS Kaga (DDH-184) at the company's Kure shipyard in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture.

Janes understands that modifications will be made in two main stages to coincide with the vessel's periodic refit and overhaul programmes, which take place every five years.

Initial modifications, which will take place extensively during fiscal year (FY) 2022, starting 1 April, include reinforcing the flight deck to support additional weight, placing additional guidance lights, drawing the yellow lines on the flight deck necessary for launching F-35Bs, and fitting the ship with heat-resistant deck spots for vertical landings.

In addition, in the first stage of the modifications, JS Kaga will have the bow section of its flight deck, which is currently trapezoidal, modified into a square shape, similar to that found on the US Navy's Wasp- and America-class amphibious assault ships.

The second and final modifications, which are expected to be made during the vessel's next overhaul starting from the end of FY 2026, include changes to the ship's interior compartments.

The JMSDF was allocated JPY20.3 billion (USD167.7 million) in FY 2021 to carry out the first stage of modifications.

First-stage modifications were completed in June 2021 on the first vessel in the class, JS

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