Japan’s Unveils “Aircraft Carrier in Disguise”
Image Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Japan’s Unveils “Aircraft Carrier in Disguise”

0 Likes
77 comments

Japan officially unveiled its long-awaited Izumo-class helicopter destroyer (22DDH-class destroyer) on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

At 250 meters (820 feet) long, and reportedly displacing 24,000 tons, the ship can carry 14 helicopters. It is the largest warship Japan has fielded since WWII, and about 50 percent bigger (in terms of displacement) than Japan’s current largest ship, the Hyuga-class helicopter destroyer.

The unveiling of the vessel, which will be the third helicopter carrier in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces’ (JMSDF) fleet, coincides with the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The 22DDH-Class Destroyer was first order in 2009 and is expected to be commissioned into the fleet in 2015.

Tokyo has said the Izumo-class destroyer will be used for anti-submarine warfare, border-area surveillance missions and to transport personnel to the sites of natural disasters.

However, the vessel has clearly unnerved China, where it has received extensive coverage in the state media.

Commenting on the 22DDH on Wednesday, China’s Defense Ministry said, “We are concerned over Japan's constant expansion of its military equipment. Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community need to be highly vigilant about this trend. Japan should learn from history, adhere to its policy of self-defense and abide by its promise to take the road of peaceful development.”

Li Daguang, a professor at the PLA’s National Defense University, similarly called the vessel an “aircraft carrier in disguise.”

Japan’s pacifist constitution would seemingly prohibit it from operating aircraft carriers. However, Li is not alone in having these suspicions. Commentators have been warning for years that this is a destroyer in name only and is built so that it is could theoretically later be equipped with combat aircraft such as the F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Sources in Japan have countered this speculation by suggesting that the reason for the increase in the 22DDH’s size over the Hyuga-class is that Japan intends to use the V22 Osprey as the main aircraft it flies off the vessel. There is no official confirmation on this; however, it is notable that Japan is now looking at buying the V22 Osprey.

In reality, it seems likely that how Japan uses the 22DDH will depend on how the regional security situation develops. By building a pseudo-carrier, and maintaining a fleet of combat aircraft, Tokyo will preserve the option of deploying an aircraft carrier after a certain amount of training, which could potentially be reduced by practicing take-off and landing exercises from U.S. carriers.

In this sense, the 22DDH might not be so different from Japan’s breakout nuclear capacity.      

Comments
77
Tom Balas
April 9, 2014 at 01:26

Why not the f-35B? Japan would be a good customer and a balance to that mad man Putin.

cva-41 airdale
April 6, 2014 at 07:01

Why the complaints & fears? Someone needs to take the reins in the Far East. I would rather Japan be aiding us in defense of that area & its waters, than to go it alone against No. Korea & China. Japan is not the “feudal” society it was pre WWII.

John
April 6, 2014 at 05:43

To say South Korea’s air force is more technologically advanced then the U.S. is a bit of a stretch. You all way underestimate the Japanese. If you do not remember South Korea exists because of the U.S. Without aid from the U.S. in the Korean War South Korea wouldn’t of stood a chance. In the future we will see Japans military grow to become a recognized power. We are already seeing effects of this. But why would South Korea have anything to be worried about? They are allies. Also, Japan is such a close ally to the U.S. I would never see the U.S. allowing any kind of “Japanese extinction”, nether would the Japanese people.

Bob
April 9, 2014 at 00:34

They are NOT allies…that is only what you believe to be true given they are allies with the U.S.

John
April 6, 2014 at 05:34

To say South Korea’s air force is more technologically advanced then the U.S. is a bit of a stretch. You all way underestimate the Japanese. If you do not remember South Korea exists because of the U.S. Without aid from the U.S. in the Korean War South Korea wouldn’t of stood a chance. In the future we will see Japans military grow to become a recognized power. We are already seeing effects of this. But why would South Korea have anything to be worried about? They are allies. Also, Japan is such a close ally to Japan I would never see the U.S. allowing any kind of “Japanese extinction”, nether would the Japanese people.

Kurtis Engle
February 11, 2014 at 09:17

No catapult. Thin decks that would fail under an F-35. Lack of specialized equipment of all sorts. A surgery where the combat information center belongs. This is not an aircraft carrier, and it would have to be gutted, rebuilt, and massively reinforced to become one. To call it an offensive weapon is to engage in warmongering.

seo wook kim
January 21, 2014 at 18:01

u.s. will always be guaranteed to back the bad guy

Zero
January 26, 2014 at 09:02

Sure just like when they helped removed the Japanese from China.

Redliner
August 29, 2013 at 05:21

So uh, why are we debating about Japan, China and South Korea duking it out, especially when the possibility of that is remote, at least for the next decade?

Figured we should be talking about the geopolitical climate, hard power factors, and intentions of the state actors involved. I kind of expected more from The Diplomat readers.

Mark
August 28, 2013 at 13:44

Wake up JC, the Koreans will never forget the atrocity inflicted on them and no apology is enough for the Chinese and the other Asian countries. Indeed the history will repeat itself again and this time it will eradicate the Japanese race.

Mark
August 28, 2013 at 13:38

Yeah, history will repeat itself. I think Japan has not learnt its lesson in WWII. The "Japanman" is an aminal who will eventual lead to his own destruction. All the Asian countries still have the scares inflicted by the Jap and will never forget its atrocity.  

August 24, 2013 at 09:53

China is now a recognized Economic power.
China wants to be part if the other world powers like the US, France and the UK. What they have forgotten is Japan ability to revive its military might. A Japanese friend once told me that the place of a Chinaman is
In the kitchen, that of a Japanman is on the battlefield..
Isn’t it enough for everyone to understand that the Japanese are warriors in their genes ?
History will repeat itself again and again. Time changes but men remain….

meatball
November 28, 2013 at 21:10

I deeply respect the Japanese as a people and a nation. Nationalism is deeply ingrained make no mistake. We have seen their demeanor in the midst of crisis. China should not test Japanese resolve. The Americans learned that in Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

A Japanese citizen
August 23, 2013 at 09:15

South Korea and Japan should get along. I think that the Japanese government should straight up apologize once and for all about the atrocities that the part of the IJA committed. (I know they have apologized already) After that acknokedge our differences. Every country has committed atrocities sometime in there history. Then we should focus on China and what they’re doing…

A11sfair
August 21, 2013 at 11:55

ROK should initially stay neutral in any fight between China and Japan.  But Korea should be armed to the teeth and ready for any contingency.

A11sfair
August 21, 2013 at 11:48

Yes, I stand corrected.  Once a sub runs out of breathable air, fuel, food and other essentials, it will have to surface.

A11sfair
August 21, 2013 at 11:13

 ROKAF has 60 (not 39) fully operational F-15Ks and will add another 60 F-15SEs. The wings and the fuselages of all F-15Ks and the latest F-15SG and the F-15S are all made in Korea.  Samsung Techwin makes the F-100-PW-229 engines.  The flight controls, key electronics including the radar are also made in Korea.  In fact, Korean Air maintains most USAF F-15s and F-16s in flying condition.  Korea can keep F-15K's and KF-16s in better flying condition than the U.S.  With regard to whose pilots are better, just because you keep repeating some falsity over and over doesn't make it real.  Re pilot training, watch the awesome ROKAF Black Eagles on Youtube.  Some fancy flying eh!  JSDF pilots can't fly like that since they are simply not capable or plain scared.  Plus another fact, ROKAF flies the latest AWACS, so new in fact that they are not really called AWACS but AEW&Cs.  MESA radar beats rotating dome radar any day, sort of like the difference between AESA and mechanically controlled radar.  So you know, all 180 KF-16s are getting RACR AESA radars that can detect JSDF F-35s.  Once detected, a JSDF F-35 will not be returning home.  

Economicaly, the per capita income of Korea has surpassed Japan.  Buy anything made in Japan lately?  I bought a new Korean car over the weekend and it drives better than my Mercedes.  That weekend, I also bought an eyeglass frame at COSTCO for $60 made in Japan.  That's what's happening to the Japanese economy, deflationary and collapsing fast with a constantly diminishing industrial output.  On the other hand, Korea's share of world industrial output is increasing.  Korean exports will soon surpass Japan, and Korea maintains a healthy trade surplus.  With enemies like two-faced Japan disrupting peace in the neighborhood, Korea must be vigilant, always. Yes, North Korea is an inconvenience for sure, but when it collapses in a couple years, Korean land mass will double and a relatively young population of 25 million will be added for a combined 75 million, with an economy no less than Germany. Finally, no need to invade Japan unless provoked. Simply don't need to take over an aging population on some tiny radioactive islands prone to disasters both natural and synthetic.  But if need be, the Korean marines are ready and they are the best in the world, along with the U.S.M.C.

 

Share your thoughts

Your Name
required
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment
required

Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief