Japan Plans to Build Another Helicopter-Carrying Ship


Japan plans to build another helicopter-carrying ship in reply to China’s acquirement of its first home-made flattop, reports Korean information agency Cho Sun.

The information that China had started construction of its first aircraft carrier was circulated by Chinese media on Wednesday. Reportedly, the first Chinese-built carrier would be 320-meter long accomodating 50 deck-based aircrafts.

As a reaction, Japan intends to build a helicopter carrier of new type – Project 22DDH – with displacement of 19,500 tons. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force currently operates two new heli-carriers Hyuga and Ise commissioned in March 2009 and March 2011 respectively. However, a Project 22DDH carrier planned to be put in service in 2015 will be significantly larger with length of 248 meters and 14 helicopters on board. The ship’s construction is evaluated as $1.04 bln.

Carriers of the previous type have length of 197 meters, displacement of 13,500 tons, and 11 helicopters on board. Despite smaller size comparing to the Chinese aircraft carrier, the Japanese ship will be equipped with the most up-to-date US-made arms including new onboard air/missile defense system designed by Raytheon.

During WW2 Japanese Navy did operate aircraft carriers, but having lost the war, it renounced the concept of such ships shifting to helicopter carriers which were more effective against basic threat of the post-war period, i.e. Chinese and Soviet submarines. Helicopters based on new ships are mostly ASW-oriented as well. In its turn, China is aware of Japan’s possible acquirement of American aircrafts F-35B which easily transform any ASW helicopter-carrying ship into attack aircraft carrier.

Japan seems strongly about to modify Project 22DDH into a full-fledged aircraft carrier. However, analysts regard such possibility with skepticism, since having an aircraft carrier is inexpedient for the country with overall Navy’s manpower of 45,000 and being in tight economic situation.

In addition, Japan implements several large military projects; JPY 39 bln have been spent for national 5-gen fighter which is expected to take off in 2014, and JPY 15 bln – for unmanned vehicles and various robots.

Source: rusnavy, September 19, 2011;