The JS Izumo, commissioned on March 25th, 2015. Officially classified as a $1.2 billion “helicopter destroyer”, this warship is the largest constructed by Japan since the Second World War, and at first glance bears a striking resemblance to a light aircraft carrier.

JS Izumo review on Dung Tran Military channel


Before and during World War 2, the Japanese Navy was considered to be the most powerful in Asia at that time and almost owned the Pacific Ocean, although the other side was mighty America. After World War 2, due to the constraints in Article 9 of the constitution that made the Japanese Navy, known as the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces, was not allowed to own aircraft carriers.

In the context of the Asia Pacific region becoming increasingly complex, especially the strong rise of the Chinese Navy, Japan cannot stand outside. The Land of the Rising Sun has been quietly strengthening its military capabilities and procuring advanced equipment amid the ongoing debate over whether to amend Article 9 of the country’s constitution.

The Japanese Navy boasts an impressive array of hardware and if the country’s ruling party has its way with the constitution, its capability will only get stronger.

JS Izumo
JS Izumo

Constraints of the Japanese constitution

Due to constitutional regulations, the purchase of aircraft carriers for Japan is impossible, but destroyers are another story. Destroyers on the other hand rely on speed and maneuverability and are easily employed in defensive roles, criteria deemed acceptable under the Japanese Constitution.

Therefore, to accommodate this unique political limitation, the Japanese have designated one of their latest vessels as a “helicopter destroyer” but with capabilities akin to those of an aircraft carrier. JS Izumo DDH-183 is part of Japan’s plan, the lead ship in the Izumo class of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

She is the second warship to be named for Izumo Province, with the previous ship being the armored cruiser Izumo (1898).

Design of JS Izumo

The JS Izumo, commissioned on March 25th, 2015. Officially classified as a $1.2 billion “helicopter destroyer”, this warship is the largest constructed by Japan since the Second World War, and at first glance bears a striking resemblance to a light aircraft carrier.

With an impressive length of 248 meters and a beam of 38 meters, the vessel is larger than short take-off and vertical landing carriers operating in the Spanish and Italian navies. Likewise, its fully-loaded displacement of 24,000 tonnes and 7.3 meter draft put the Izumo in a category similar to that of the Invincible class carriers commissioned by the Royal Navy.

Altogether, the scale of these vessels represents a major advance in Japan’s maritime defense capabilities, significantly increasing the country’s ability to project force.

JS Izumo
JS Izumo

Powerplant and performance

The DDH-183 is propelled by four LM2500IEC gas turbine engines, which generate a power of 112,000hp and she can sail at a top speed of more than 30 knots.

The vessel can complement 970 crew and troops, and will carry up to 14 helicopters- primarily Japanese-built MCH-101s and SH-60Ks equipped for anti-submarine warfare or search-and-rescue operations.

The destroyer features a spacious flight deck that can accommodate five helicopters to take off and land simultaneously. It also includes roll-on and roll-off ramp, and interior space for up to 50 vehicles.

Electronic warfare

Equipped with the latest in electronic warfare, fire control, and radar systems. The Sensors and processing systems inclued OYQ-12 combat direction system, FCS-3 fire control system, OPS-50 AESA radar, OPS-28 surface-search radar and OQQ-23 bow sonar.

The Electronic warfare & decoys inclued NOLQ-3D-1 EW suite, Mark 36 SRBOC, Anti-torpedo mobile decoy and Floating acoustic jammer.

For closer encounters, the Izumo is equipped with the Phalanx and SeaRam close-in weapons systems, capable of defeating most forms of incoming ordnance.

JS Izumo
JS Izumo


Japan’s new class of “helicopter destroyer” vessels have secretly been designed for fixed-wing aircraft takeoff and landing operations, allowing them to serve as aircraft carriers toting around fifth-generation F-35B aircraft.

According to military experts, a secret deal was reached at the earliest stages of the Izumo program to design the ships to be modular enough for conversion into a vessel that could carry F-35B aircraft.

In 2018 it was announced that Japan will modify its two Izumo class helicopter destroyers will be modified in order to accommodate F-35 series stealthy multi-role fighters. The capacity of this ship has been significantly raised. Apart from helicopters these ships can also accommodate F-35B stealthy multi-role fighters with short-take off and vertical landing capability and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor transports.

To accommodate the Joint Strike Fighter, a few key modifications to the class would be necessary. Thermion coating, like that used on the Wasp class, would need to be applied to protect it from the extreme heat created by the F-35’s exhaust during vertical landing.

JS Izumo
JS Izumo

Second, a ski-jump similar to those employed on most European carriers would likely be needed to assist the F-35 during take-off. Should a complement of F-35’s and V-22’s be added to the Izumo, Japan would boast an increased maritime strike capability, signaling Japan’s increasing military power to its rivals.

Overall, the capabilities of the new Izumo class “helicopter destroyers” represent a step up for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Though in their current configuration the vessels are not capable of fielding conventional fixed-wing aircraft, with minor adjustments and a compliment of STOVL aircraft, the Izumo class would boast similar capabilities to light aircraft carriers currently serving around the world.

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