This week, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force commissioned the JS Izumo (DDH-183), a helicopter destroyer, in a ceremony at the JMSDF Yokosuka naval base in Yokohama.
The new carrier’s principal task, although touted as a multi-purpose vessel, will be anti-submarine warfare and command-and-control operations to protect Japanese territories in the East China Sea.
“This heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect,” one Japanese official noted. According to other JMSDF officials, the ship will also be used for humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) operations.
With a 27,000 tons displacement when fully loaded (some sources state 24,000 tons), the 248 m-long Izumo-class helicopter carrier is the largest surface combatant in the Japanese fleet to date, and substantially bigger than its predecessor, the Hyūga-class, which yielded 19,000 tons.
The ship will have a crew of around 470 and also can carry up to 400 JSDF troops. IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly notes about the vessels’s specifications:
Izumo is equipped with an OQQ-22 bow-mounted sonar for submarine prosecution while air defence is provided by two Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile SeaRAM launchers and two Phalanx close-in weapon systems. (…)[I]t can embark Sikorsky/Mitsubishi SH-60K Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters and the Izumo class’s air wing will also include two airborne mine countermeasures versions of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries/AgustaWestland MCH-101 helicopter – JMSDF officials claim that the ship will be deployed mainly for border surveillance and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. (..) Officials in Tokyo have also suggested it will embark Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.