The U.S. military’s F-35B fighter jets could use Izumo-class ships for training exercises after the Japanese vessels are renovated to be able to host such aircraft, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said Thursday.
Takeoff and landing drills using the Japanese helicopter carriers, which are due to be remodeled into de facto aircraft carriers, by U.S. F-35Bs may happen before Japan takes delivery of its own F-35Bs, Iwaya told a news conference.
U.S. support may be necessary to test the Japanese vessels, he said.
Japan plans to renovate the Izumo, one of the country’s two Izumo-class carriers, in fiscal 2020, beginning next April, and the Kaga, the other vessel, in fiscal 2022.
The country is unlikely to take delivery of F-35Bs until at least fiscal 2024.