Japan Unveils Kaga Carrier Refurbished for F-35B Stealth Fighters

Kaga was modified with heat-resistant deck paint, aircraft markings, and reshaped bow to support F-35B operations.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 06:16 AM, April 9, 2024
  • 1172
Japan Unveils Kaga Carrier Refurbished for F-35B Stealth Fighters
Japanese Navy's modified Kaga vessel @via Japanese media

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) presented its Kaga vessel to the media on Tuesday, showcasing the completion of initial modifications aimed at enabling the ship to support F-35B stealth fighter jets.

The modifications to the Kaga, a former helicopter carrier, were carried out over a two-year period. The ship's deck was covered with heat-resistant paint to withstand the exhaust heat generated by the F-35B's vertical takeoff and landing operations. Additionally, specific markings, including a yellow line running from stern to bow, were applied to aid in aircraft takeoff procedures.

To improve aerodynamics during takeoff, the bow of the Kaga was reshaped from a trapezoid to a rectangle, which helps reduce turbulence and ensures a safe takeoff distance.

The Kaga is part of the Izumo-class helicopter carriers, which are the largest vessels in the JMSDF fleet, measuring 248 meters in length with a standard displacement of 19,950 tons.

Captain Ichiro Kokubu, commander of the Kaga, mentioned during a news conference in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, that this modification project is the first major undertaking of its kind by the JMSDF.  "We want to contribute to national security by fully utilizing the functions (of the new Kaga)," he added.

Concurrently, the Izumo, another helicopter carrier, is also undergoing modifications to accommodate F-35B fighter jets. Its deck has already been made heat-resistant, with plans to reshape its bow in the current fiscal year, which ends next March.

The Defense Ministry plans to procure a total of 42 F-35B jets, with the initial deployment of six jets expected at the Air Force's Nyutabaru base in Miyazaki Prefecture by the end of the fiscal year.

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