According to Asiatimes, the Japanese Navy is pursuing a plan to build an aircraft carrier under the guise of the Aegis destroyer.
Accordingly, the Japanese Navy plans to invest up to 7.1 billion USD in the Aegis destroyer with the size of an aircraft carrier, which will be a multi-purpose warship that plays the main role of the country’s maritime combat force.
A pair of ballistic missile defense ships is being proposed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense. If this becomes a reality, it will be one of the largest warships in Japan’s inventory since the Second World War. Whether it will be money militarily well-spent, however, is in question. Plans to spend $7.1 billion on a sea-based version of the Aegis Ashore system, a seeming reversal of its 2020 decision to scrap the land-based version of the missile defense system.
According to sources, the destroyer would be comparable in size to an aircraft carrier, with a draft blueprint calling for a 20,000-ton warship, with 210 meters from stern to bow and a maximum width of 40 meters. It will be significantly larger than the Maya-class destroyers and Izumo-class helicopter carriers currently in service. The Maya-class has a displacement of 8,200 tons, 170 meters long, and 21 meters wide, while the Izumo-class displaces 19,950 tons, is 248 meters long and 38 meters wide.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said in a September 2 news conference that it “was extremely important as the nation moved to fundamentally bolster its defense capabilities over the next five years,” emphasizing that the warships are critical to Japan’s defense. He said that building a destroyer of such proportions is the only way to mitigate its swaying at sea, as the Aegis Ashore system tracks and intercepts missile threats.
The Japanese Navy’s new Aegis destroyer will also be larger than China’s current best warship, the Type 055. However, information about the “large-sized Aegis air-defense destroyer” of the Japanese Navy is causing a lot of doubts and questions from neighboring countries, including China and South Korea. Most expressed concern about the possibility that Japan really intends to build an aircraft carrier rather than a destroyer, especially when Tokyo’s new military doctrine focuses on combat capabilities in the far seas.
Around the world, it is quite common to misname aircraft carriers as carrier cruisers as the Soviet Union did, and even Japan itself calls the Izumo or Hyuga destroyers, even though they are actually aircraft carriers. It is possible that the Japanese Navy wanted to build an aircraft carrier from the beginning instead of having to convert the Izumo to be able to carry fighter jets as they have done in the past.
In another development, Japan is also planning to upgrade its existing missile defense systems to detect and intercept hypersonic missiles, including from enhanced radar sires and more early warning aircraft, Asahi Shimbun reported in a separate August article. In a 2020 article, Nikkei noted that Japan’s two-stage missile shield consists of Aegis-equipped warships that can intercept ballistic missiles in their midcourse phase and Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air batteries that can shoot down missiles during their re-entry phase.