US Marines F-35B STOVL fighter aircraft will operate from Japanese Izumo-class aircraft carrier

According to an interview published on Youtube by the Center for Strategic & International Studies on September 1, 2021, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has announced that U.S. Marine F-35B STOVL (Standard Take-off and Vertical Landing) fighter aircraft will operate from the Japanese Izumo-class aircraft carrier in October or November this year.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class Helicopter Destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184), front, and dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) transition in formation during Keen Sword 21. (Picture source U.S. Navy)

According to information published on Internet, the United States Marine Corps plans to operate their own STOVL (Standard Take-off and Vertical Landing) F-35Bs from Izumo-class ships in cooperation with the ship's crew to build up a Japanese capability to operate this type of aircraft. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has ordered 42 STOVL F-35Bs in 2019 and will operate them from land bases once delivered

In July 2021 it was indicated that of the 42 F-35B variants to be acquired, 18 will be introduced by FY2023 (Fiscal Year), six in FY2024, and two in FY2025. These are to form a single squadron consisting of about 20 aircraft operating from the Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan.

The Izumo-class multi-purpose destroyers or 22DDH are helicopter carriers in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). In December 2017, several sources including Reuters and Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the Japanese government was contemplating modifying the Izumo class to operate F-35B STOVL aircraft.

In February 2018, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Japan was planning to acquire 40 F-35Bs, the Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which could be operated from the Izumo-class with some modifications to the ships. It was estimated that each Izumo-class carrier could operate 12 or more F-35B aircraft.

On 18 December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet gave the approval to modify the Izumo class into de facto aircraft carriers. The modifications will reinforce the decks of the Izumo-class ships to support the additional weight of F-35B, as well as the heat and forces from the jets during vertical landing.

Construction of the Izumo-class began in 2011 at Yokohama shipyard. Its keel was laid down in January 2012 and the vessel was launched in August 2013. Currently, two Izumo-clas are in service with the Japanese Navy including the JS Izumo (DDH-183) and the Kaga (DDH-184)

The Izumo-class 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. As helicopters carriers, the ship can carry nine helicopters including seven anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters and two search and rescue (SAR) helicopters.

The Izumo-class is powered by a combined gas turbine and gas turbine (COGAG) propulsion system including four GE/IHI LM2500IEC gas turbines driving two shafts. She can reach a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h) (56 km/h). The ship has a complement of 970 people including crew and air wing.