US Navy F-35Bs to embark on Japan’s largest warship in October

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force JS Izumo (DDH-183) helicopter destroyer steams during a ship maneuver exercise for Malabar 2017. US Navy photo

KUALA LUMPUR – US Marine F-35Bs from Iwakuni to support the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s post-refit testing of the JS helicopter destroyer Izumo (DDH183) next month.

The Marine Corps aircraft will work with the JMSDF in the Pacific Ocean from Oct. 3-7, according to a press release issued Thursday by the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Izumo in June, completed the first of a two-stage modification that will allow it to operate the F-35, the first stage adding a heat-resistant coating to the flight deck and flight line markings for operations of the F-35.

The statement did not specify which squadron the plane would come from or how many USMC F-35Bs will be on board for testing. The US Marines have two F-35B squadrons operating out of Marine Corps Air Base Iwakuni, with Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 “bats” declaring initial operational readiness on September 9. from VMFA-121 – reached the IOC in July 2015, before being deployed to Japan in January 2017.

MCAS Iwakuni detailed Izumo arriving at the base port in a new statement on Thursday, although he did not state the purpose of the ship’s arrival.

USNI News reported on September 1 that Marine Corps Commander General David Berger said the US Marine F-35s would operate from a Japanese warship later this year, although he did not be unclear whether it meant testing or an operational deployment or subsequent exercise on Izumo.

IzumoThe final conversion work for s will be carried out in FY 2025, while its sister ship – JS Kaga (DDH184) – will be fully modified in FY 2022. The second stage of Izumothe conversion and the complete stage of KagaThe conversion will involve a change in the shape of the ships’ bow as well as an interior reconfiguration allowing them to embark and fully operate F-35s.

The F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) prepares for take off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) on August 25, 2021. Navy photo american

The modification of Izumo and Kaga are associated with a plan to purchase by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces 42 F-35Bs to operate from the two ships. The first of the JSDF F-35Bs is expected to arrive in FY 2023 and the US Navy’s F-35s are expected to continue operating off both ships as Japan gets used to F-35B operations . The JMSDF has already carried out a series of engagements and exchanges related to F-35B operations with the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) of the British Royal Navy while in Japan in early September.

A JMSDF submarine conducted a series of anti-submarine warfare training Sept. 14-15 with a Royal Navy submarine near Japan, the JMSDF said in a press release earlier this week. The statement said it was the first time that a JMSDF submarine had trained with a Royal Navy submarine. A British Astute-class submarine is currently operating in the region as part of the CSG21 deployment. The UK and Japan have also agreed to begin formal negotiations on a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) to deepen defense relations between the two countries, the UK Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.

During this time, Izumosister ship of – Kaga – and the JS destroyer Murasame (DD101) cross the Indian Ocean to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for a stopover October 2-4 as part of the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021 (IPD21) working group. The two ships conducted an exercise in the Indian Ocean with the German navy frigate FGS Bayern (F217) last week. The exercise included BayernThe on-board Super Lynx helicopter makes a landing on Kaga and one of KagaSH-60 helicopters doing the same on Bayern.

The two JMSDF ships also conducted an exercise with the USNS Yukon (T-AO-202) Wednesday.

Bayern, who left Germany in August for a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific, docked in Fremantle, Western Australia on Tuesday for a week-long visit following an anti-war exercise -submarine with a P-8 of the Royal Australian Air Force. The frigate will be moored at the port of Fremantle from September 28 to October 5.

Meanwhile, UK main body CSG21 left Guam on Tuesday. The British CSG consists of the aircraft carrier HMS queen elizabeth (R08) and carrier planes, including the “Wake Island Avengers” of VMFA-211 and the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron “The Dambusters”. The two squadrons are integrated for operations on the aircraft carrier.

The CSG also includes the HMS frigates Kent (F78) and HMS Richmond (F239), FRG of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria (A387) and RFA Tidespring (A136), HMS destroyer Defender (D36) and an Astute class submarine. Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805), American destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG68) are also part of the CSG. Some elements of the group are in separate places, with The Sullivans last seen docked at Yokosuka. Richmond – having been deployed to the East China Sea while participating in UN sanctions operations against North Korea – posted on social media Monday that he had transited through the Taiwan Strait as he was heading towards Vietnam.

The transit prompted a rebuke from the People’s Liberation Army, a spokesperson for the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said the move was a publicity stunt and proof of “bad intentions” and ” opportunism “of the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the destroyer HMS diamond (D34) who was forced to drop out of CSG21 in July due to engine problems, joined Diego Garcia on Monday to join the squad.

While CSG21 is in Guam, the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Task Force which includes the frigate HMNZS Te Kaha (F77) and HMNZS tanker Aotearoa (A11) Aotearoa pierced with queen elizabeth Tuesday as a prelude to a more extended series later. Te Kaha last week drilled with the Littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) in the Philippine Sea. The RNZN working group committed in early September for a two to three month deployment to Asia-Pacific, which would include participation in the Five Power Defense Arrangement (FPDA) exercise Bersama Gold 21, which will take place from October 2. to October 31. 8 to 18 off Malaysia and Singapore.

The Australian Defense Force (ADF) Indo-Pacific Endeavor Deployment 21 (IPE21) Task Force – comprised of the Royal Australian Navy LPD HMAS Canberra (L02), HMAS frigate Anzac (FFH150) and HMAS supply vessel Sirius (O266) – should also participate in Exercise Bersama Gold. The task force is currently completing a three-day stopover in Manila following an exercise with the Philippine Navy frigate BRP Antonio Moon (FF151) near the island of Cabra on September 25. The ADF also announced on Monday that the destroyer HMAS Brisbane (D41) and the frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH155) had left their home ports the previous week for a deployment that will see ships conducting engagements with regional partners in South East and North East Asia.

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