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Navy of Japan begins conversion of JS Kaga to second aircraft carrier.

| 2022

According to information published by Frontier India on 6 April 2022, the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force has begun the conversion of the second Izumo-class multipurpose destroyer into an aircraft carrier.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Japanese Izumo-class JS Kaga (Picture source: Japanese government)

JS Kaga (DDH-184) is a helicopter carrier with a planned future conversion into an aircraft carrier. Officially classified as a multi-purpose operation destroyer, she is the second ship in the Izumo class of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The helicopter carrier has a length of 248 m, a beam of 38 m, a draught of 7.5 m, and a depth of 33.5 m. She has an empty displacement of 19,500t and 27,000t when fully loaded. 

The JS Kaga can carry up to 28 aircraft, or 14 larger aircraft. However, only 7 anti-submarine warfare helicopters and 2 search and rescue helicopters are planned for the initial aircraft complement.

For other operations, 400 troops and 50 3.5-ton trucks (or equivalent equipment) can also be carried. The flight deck has five helicopter landing spots that allow simultaneous landings or take-offs. The JS Kaga is armed with two Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon Systems) and two SeaRAM CIWS.

In December 2018, the conversion of the first Izumo-class JS Izumo was confirmed when Japan announced the change of its defense guidelines. Upon the completion of the process, Izumo will be the first Japanese naval vessel to operate fixed-wing aircraft since World War II.

In 2020, Izumo began the conversion to operate F-35B fighter aircraft. Izumo was undergoing modifications, such as strengthening the heat resistance of the deck and installing power supply equipment to enable the departure and arrival of the F-35B.

The renovation work to change the bow shape to a quadrangle for the safe operation of the F-35B and the maintenance of the interior compartments are scheduled to be carried out in the second renovation.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

As a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) participant, the JASDF has an established program of record of 147 F-35 Aircraft, consisting of 105 F-35 A models and up to 42 F-35 B models. Japan is acquiring the most F-35s of any international customer.

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