The US Marine Corps’ (USMC’s) F-35B short take off vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft has landed aboard the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s (JMSDF’s) helicopter carrier JS Izumo for the first time.
The event was conducted on 3 October by Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 (VMFA-242) off the coast of Japan.
VMFA-242 is one of the two F-35B squadrons permanently stationed at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni in Japan.
JMSDF Escort Flotilla One commander rear admiral Shukaku Komuta said: “This trial has proved that the JS Izumo has the capability to support take-offs and landings of STOVL aircraft at sea, which will allow us to provide an additional option for air defence in the Pacific Ocean in the near future.
“We still have work to do until the day the JSDF can regularly employ STOVL aircraft at sea, but I am confident that the strong partnership and mutual trust between our two counties will result in its realisation.”
With an advanced suite of sensors, the F-35B includes the latest stealth technology.
This technology enables the aircraft to create a ‘dynamic’ battlespace awareness.
The helicopter carrier received a series of modifications to enable short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.
1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general major general Brian Cavanaugh said: “We have the utmost confidence in the Joint Strike Fighter and are eager for our Japanese allies to have the same capabilities in their hands, which ultimately contributes to our shared goal of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Japan is one of the 14 nations to participate in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter programme.
In August 2019, the country announced that it would procure 42 F-35B aircraft from the US.
In a Twitter post on 3 October, JMSDF stated: “The JMSDF conducted verification of take-off and landing of the USMC F-35B to JS Izumo.
“The JMSDF continues to steadily carry out the necessary modifications to the IZUMO-class to acquire the capability to operate the F-35Bs.”