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Did Japan Have a Secret Plan to Arm It's Aircraft Carrier with F-35s?

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Very nearly since the day Japan laid down JS Izumo (and her sister, Kaga) analysts have wondered whether the medium-sized aircraft carrier might eventually fly the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). At 27,000 tons and 814 feet long, the Izumos are clearly large enough to operate the F-35B, the short take-off and vertical landing aircraft (STOVL) variant of JSF family. Moreover, Japan has recently expressed interest in acquiring a number of F-35Bs, officially for the purpose of operating from landing strips on small islands near the East China Sea.

Now, a source is reporting that the Izumo was in fact designed with the F-35B in mind. The Japanese Ministry of Defense has denied plans to retrofit Izumos to carry the fighter (they currently only carry helicopters), but Asahi Shimbun has reported that Izumos were, in fact, designed to carry the F-35B. Designating the ships “helicopter destroyers” is a way of avoiding controversy, domestic and international, over Japan’s possession of potentially........

© The National Interest