Japan will have two aircraft carriers by 2027. Japan has started converting the second of two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Izumo-class helicopter carriers into aircraft carriers capable of supporting the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B Lightning II.
The Japanese Maritime Staff Supervision Department has confirmed that the second Izumo-class helicopter carrier Kaga has entered the dock in Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture, to accept the «aircraft carrier» modification. The conversion will be divided into the first and second stages, the first stage of the Kaga will continue until 2023, followed by the second stage of the conversion, which is expected to be completed in 2027.
Initial modifications, which will take place extensively during fiscal year (FY) 2022, starting 1 April, include reinforcing the flight deck to support additional weight, placing additional guidance lights, drawing the yellow lines on the flight deck necessary for launching F-35Bs, and fitting the ship with heat-resistant deck spots for vertical landings.
The refit of the Izumo, the sister ship of the Kaga and the lead ship of the Izumo-class helicopter carrier, began at the end of 2019 in Yokohama, Japan. In the middle of last year, the first phase of the refit of the Izumo was completed. It is expected that Japan will complete the «aircraft carrier» upgrade of the Izumo by 2026 at the latest, which means that the ship It will become an aircraft carrier, and by 2027, Japan may be equipped with two aircraft carriers, and with the destroyers of the Self-Defense Forces, they can create two battle groups.