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USMC F-35Bs to operate off JS Izumo by November 2021

The US Marine Corps (USMC) plans to operate its Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II multirole fighter aircraft from one of Japan's two Izumo-class helicopter carriers by November 2021, USMC Commandant General David Berger said on 1 September.

β€œWe're not going to go on deployment but we're actually going to fly US Marine Corps' F-35s off a Japanese ship,” the four-star general said during a Maritime Security Dialogue hosted by the US Naval Institute and Center for Strategic and International Studies on 1 September.

His remarks coincide with the views of Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who said at a press conference in late July that the US military's F-35B fighter aircraft will begin trials aboard JS Izumo or its sister ship JS Kaga sometime during the Japanese fiscal year (FY) 2021.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo has said the modifications of Izumo and Kaga into aircraft carriers, capable of accommodating F-35B fighter aircraft operations, will be made in two main stages meant to coincide with the vessel's periodic refit and overhaul programmes, which take place every five years.

Janes confirmed the Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU) has completed the first phase of the modifications on Izumo to accommodate F-35s by late June at the company's Isogo shipyard in Yokohama city. The modifications include the upgrade of the carrier's flight deck with heat-resistant deck spots for vertical take-offs and landings.

The second phase of Izumo's modifications, which is expected to be made during the vessel's next overhaul in FY 2025, will include the change of the bow section of its flight deck. It is trapezoidal, and it will be modified into a square shape similar to the United States Navy's Wasp- and America-class amphibious assault ships.

As for Kaga

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