US Marine Corps F-35B aircraft land aboard Japanese Ship Izumo

Marine Corps F35 Japanese Izumo
US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 conducts a vertical landing aboard the Japanese Ship Izumo off the coast of Japan.

At the request of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242 successfully conducted the first ever landing of two F-35B Lightning II aircraft aboard the Japanese Ship Izumo on Oct. 3. Following a series of modifications to the JS Izumo to enable short take-off and vertical landing operations, a capability that the “B” variant of the F-35 specializes in, U.S. Marines embarked aboard the JS Izumo and worked directly with JMSDF personnel as part of a bilateral effort to ensure the capability test was both effective and safe.

“This trial has proved that the JS Izumo has the capability to support takeoffs and landings of STOVL aircraft at sea, which will allow us to provide an additional option for air defense in the Pacific Ocean in the near future,” said JMSDF Rear Adm. Shukaku Komuta, commander of Escort Flotilla One.

Japan is one of 14 nations worldwide that participate in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program and announced in August, 2019 that they would purchase 42 F-35B aircraft from the United States. This announcement was particularly significant since the last time Japan operated an aircraft carrier was over 75 years ago.

“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 realization,” said Komuta.

The F-35 includes the latest stealth technology and has an advanced suite of sensors that enables it to create a dynamic awareness of the battlespace. The F-35 is then able to rapidly share this information with other aircraft platforms and command centers, including those operated by multinational allies and partners, creating greater situational awareness for commanders.

“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,” said Maj. Gen. Brian W. Cavanaugh, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General.

VMFA-242 is one of two F-35B squadrons permanently stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan and is one of the many forward-stationed units that routinely train with Japan Self-Defense Forces. The F-35B represents the United States’ rebalance to the Indo-Pacific and their commitment to the defense of Japan and regional security with the most capable and modern equipment in the U.S. inventory.

Marine Corps F35 Japanese Izumo

Marine Corps F35 Japanese Izumo

Marine Corps F35 Japanese Izumo

Marine Corps F35 Japanese Izumo

Marine Corps F35 Japanese Izumo

Source: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
Images: USMC/Lance Cpl. Tyler Harmon

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