In show of naval force, Japan to send its largest warship to South China Sea
MAR 13, 2017
Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War II.
China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.
The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and U.S. naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July.
It will return to Japan in August, the sources said.
“The aim is to test the capability of the Izumo by sending it out on an extended mission,” one of the sources said.
“It will train with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea,” he added, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
A Maritime Self-Defense Force spokesman declined to comment.
Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the maritime area, which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year.
Japan does not have any claim to the waters but has a separate dispute with China in the East China Sea.
Japan wants to invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pushed ties with China in recent months as he has criticized the old alliance with the United States, to visit the Izumo when it makes a port call in Subic Bay, about 100 km west of Manila, another of the sources said.
Japan’s flag-flying operation comes as the United States under President Donald Trump appears to be taking a tougher line with China. Washington has criticized China’s construction of man-made islands and a buildup of military facilities that it worries could be used to restrict free movement.
Beijing in January said it had “irrefutable” sovereignty over the disputed islands after the White House vowed to defend “international territories.”
The 249-meter-long Izumo is as large as Japan’s World War II-era carriers and can operate up to nine helicopters. It resembles the amphibious assault carriers used by the U.S. military but lacks their well deck for launching landing craft and other vessels.
Japan in recent years, particularly under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been stretching the limits of the pacifist Constitution. The government has designated the Izumo as a destroyer because the Constitution forbids the acquisition of offensive weapons. The vessel, nonetheless, allows Japan to project military power well beyond its territory.
Based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, which is also home to the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, the Izumo’s primary mission is anti-submarine warfare.
Original post japantimes.co.jp
Izumo class helicopter carrier
The Izumo class is a new type of helicopter carriers of the Japan’s Marine Self-Defense Forces. Two ships of the class are planned. The new ships will replace ageing Shirane class ASW destroyers. The lead ship Izumo was launched in 2013. It was commisioned in 2015. It is the biggest Japanese warship since the World War II. It is even larger than the previous Hyuga class helicopter carriers.
The Izumo class helicopter carriers are multi-role ships. These can conduct amphibious operations, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. This class provides the Maritime Self-Defense Force with greater force projection capability.
This helicopter carrier bears a strong resemblance to a light aircraft carriers. The Izumo is even larger than Italian Cavour, Spanish Principe de Asturias and some other light aircraft carriers. However the Izumo class ships are referred as helicopter destroyers in Japan for political reasons. It is against Japanese constitution to operate what is referred as offensive weapons and exceeds necessary level of self-defense. The helicopter destroyer classification is not correct, as these ships are significantly larger than destroyers, have a full-length flight deck and relatively large air wing.
The flight deck has 5 helicopter landing spots for simultaneous take-offs and landings. The Izumo class ships can carry 14 helicopters. Maximum number of helicopters carried is 28. However it is claimed that typical air wing during peace time will be 7 ASW and 2 SAR helicopters. Apart from helicopters these ships can also accommodate F-35B STOVL multi-role fighters and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport. However Japanese officials do not mention this capability.
For amphibious operations it can carry troops and vehicles inside the ship. Typically 400 marines and 50 3.5 t trucks (or equivalent equipment) can be carried. However Izumo class carriers lack a well deck that dedicated amphibious assault ships have. Troops can be landed on the beaches via helicopters.
For self-defense the ships will be equipped with two 20-mm Phalanx CIWS and two SeaRAM missile launchers. Normally these helicopter carriers are escorted by other warships, that defend them from air, surface and underwater attacks.
These ships have a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) propulsion system. Each ship is fitted with four gas turbines, developing 28 000 hp each. These drive two shafts.
|Izumo (DDH-183)||2012||2013||2015||active, in service|
|Kaga (DDH-184)||2013||2015||expected in 2017||under construction|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Dimensions and displacement|
|Flight deck length||?|
|Flight deck width||?|
|Hangar deck length||?|
|Displacement, empty||19 000 tons|
|Displacement, full load||27 000 tons|
|Propulsion and speed|
|Propulsion||COGAG propulsion system with 4 gas turbines, developing 112 000 hp combined|
|Fixed wing (optional)||F-35B, V-22 Osprey|
|Helicopters||14 x SH-60J or SH-60K|
|Artillery||2 x 20 mm Phalanx CIWS|
|Missiles||2 x SeaRAM|