March 23, 2017

Japan's Carrier JS Izumo to Defy China

In May 2017 Japan will despatch the carrier JS Izumo to run a type of Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOPs) against China's new empire on sea. Japan continues to develop and increase the size of its (defensive under the Constitution) “helicopter destroyers”. As viewers would notice these are really small-medium aircraft-helicopter carriers. They are of similar size to Japan’s former WWII carriers. While the current four carriers (see below) are mainly for helicopters they are capable of carrying F-35Bs fast strike fighters - a reality not lost on China.

The carriers JS Izumo (83) and newly commissioned JS Kaga (84) certainly don't look like "destroyers". (Photo courtesy Reuters and South China Morning Post)


1. In comments of 20 and 22 March 2017 Anonymous discussed activities of Japan’s four carriers:
    -  the 27,000 ton JS Izumo (and Izumo’s sister ship JS Kaga (commissioned in March 2017)).
       They can each carry:
       =  medium size helicopters (eg. SH-60Ks and MCH-101s). These helicopters' 
           functions are mainly ASW but they are also capable of anti-shipping, mine counter measures,
           ground attack and troop carrying, or
       =  be modified to carry larger aircraft, eg. F-35B VTOL strike aircraft and V-22
           Osprey fast troop carrying tiltrotor craft.

   -  19,000 ton smaller carrier JS Hyuga (and Hyuga’s sister ship JS Ise). They can each carry:
       =  medium sized helicopters. and
       =  for Western aircraft carriers Hyuga and Ise are unusual in actually carrying some destroyer
           armaments, ie. 16 x Mk 41 VLS and 6 x LWT tubes. 

Carrier comparison. From top ROK's Dokdo class Landing Platform Helicopter,  UK Invincible class,  Charles de Gaulle (France of course), Izumo, USS Nimitz (Diagram courtesy kmozzart).


According to REUTERS JPN Japan is sending Izumo to the South China Sea in May 2017 to visit Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines (President Duterte may be invited aboard ("If [he has] time."). On this voyage see first part of this Youtube.

Might Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia also be added to the list?

The South China Sea activity will be Japan’s biggest show of naval force in the region since WWII. Japan will likely send other ships (identities not yet known, but typically they would include a destroyer, replenishment ship and maybe a submarine (for ASW practice)).

3.  JS IZUMO at MALABAR 2017 in July 2017

Izumo will participate in the ASW themed Exercise MALABAR 2017, to be held off India between the USN, Indian and Japanese navies, in July 2017.

Izumo will return to Fleet Base Yokosuka, Japan in August 2017.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying was reallly, really angry about Izumo's South China Sea voyage. On March 16, 2017 she said:

“Out of its selfish interests, Japan has been stirring up troubles and creating splits in the South China Sea. Their behaviour has prompted dissatisfaction and opposition of the Chinese people. If the Japanese side insists on doing so, or even attempts to get militarily involved in the South China Sea, harm China's sovereignty and security, and heighten regional tensions, the Chinese side will definitely take firm actions in response.”

[Hua continued] “I want to remind the Japanese side that they are not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue, and that they have a disgraceful history of occupying China's Xisha [Paracel] and Nansha [Spratly] Islands during its war of aggression against China. The Japanese side should reflect upon the history, and be discreet with its words and deeds, instead of making waves in the South China Sea and impairing regional peace and stability.”

Pete Comment – Clearly China approves of its own increases in power projection into the South China Sea but cannot imagine other countries have rights.

Anonymous and Pete

A postscript:

IJN Sōryū. At 19,000 tons the same size as JS Hyuga and Ise. A good name for a submarine class :) The Sōryū carrier was part of the Pearl Harbour strike, bombed Darwin, then was sunk at Midway. 


MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

the picture of Izumo and Hayuga is a fake. Someone did edited the figures on the carriers but not the waves beside of the two ships. Like a finger print. That could never happen.

I first stumbled about the dinghy. Also just up-sized?

The bow of the fake Izumo looks edited and is in reality not straight to the end. The lift section looks also unreal. The RAM-Starter in front of Izumo's bridge is missing. The helicopters on the center deck line are all the same. No change in perspective.

Here a real picture of the Izumo-class:


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for noticing the photo is fake. I'll put in something better to contrast their size.



Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Data of English Wiki is wrong. According JPN Wiki and other source, Izumo-Class carries 14 aircraft maximum not 28.

7 ASW helicopters and 2 SAR helicopters are correct figures.
(General characteristics, Aircraft carried: Aircraft carried: 7 ASW helicopters and 2 SAR helicopters, 28 aircraft maximum)


Anonymous said...

It is not clear if Izumo's deck can handle the very hot jet blast from F35B. The deck may need an upgrade.

Peter Coates said...

Anonymous and KQN

Thanks for your correctionisms.



Josh said...

The number of aircraft is a somewhat arbitrary number; you can park more a/c if you're willing to sacrifice deck space. The 7/2 number is what they currently ship out with, though that's pretty obviously a very light load for a ship of its size.

As far as I know the Japanese ships are not equipped to handle F-35 operations in terms of jet blast or ammunition. They would almost certainly need a modification program to operate as such, though I assume they were built with that possibility in mind.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

Yes I said "modified" several hours ago. The Ospreys also have notoriously hot blast/exhaust liable to singe/set alight any unmodified deck.



Josh said...


Actually now that you mention it the DDHs are much better suited to operate as de facto LHAs with MV-22 then CVLs with F-35.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

In Japan, there is an opinion that counter measures against heat from F-35B are conducted without data or discussion.

But, I point out the heat management system based on data and discussion. JS Kaga was ordey red in 2010. Needs of heat management system in flight deck for V-22 Osprey were discussed in 2009 USA. Certain heat management system or resemble system for V-22 may be introduced into Kaga, because post-building modification of flight is more difficult and expensive than its ntroduction at design stage. But, as exhaust heat of F-35 seems to higher than that from V-22, use of F-35 is not clear.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Legally, any surface combatant ship belongs to destroyer.

According to JMSDF directive on naming of its shpis, its ships are classified into two groups (guard ships, support ships), and guard ships are classified into four sub-groups (combatant ships, mine ships, patrol ships, transport ships). Combatant ships consist of destroyer and submarine. Category of carrier does not exist in JMSDF.