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Stratfor Comments on Japan and South Korea's Aircraft Carrier Plans

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posted on Feb, 14 2018 @ 10:39 PM

Two East Asian countries are looking to modify some of their vessels so they can carry F-35B stealth fighters.

Due to the smaller size of each country’s navy, the modernization plans will be limited.

China will soon possess a much larger carrier fleet, including vessels with catapult-launch technology similar to U.S. vessels.

With the seas heating up around them, Tokyo and Seoul are considering their next moves. Accelerating geopolitical trends, from the Chinese navy's continued development to North Korea's nuclear program, are driving Japan and South Korea, two key naval powers in the Western Pacific, to evaluate plans for the development of aircraft carriers. However, both appear to be pursuing a more restricted strategy because of their limited military budgets and — in Japan’s case — the constraints imposed by history. Nevertheless, their serious consideration of this naval expansion attests to the heated maritime competition in the region.

All that, however, appears to be changing. According to Japan's Kyodo News agency, the government is considering making its two Izumo vessels into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of transporting and launching F-35B stealth fighters. While still in its infancy, the proposal stems from Japan's broader move to normalize its military. It is concerned about its perceived inability to launch pre-emptive attacks against North Korean missile bases and about China's rapidly growing naval capability, including its carrier fleet.

Not to be left out, South Korea is also reportedly considering acquiring a carrier fleet. Much like Japan, South Korea is mulling whether to alter its Dokdo-class helicopter carrier to host the F-35B, which will feature advanced software and stealth capabilities. Beyond Seoul's pressing concern over the threat posed by North Korea and the rising power of China's navy, South Korea also wishes to remain in step with developments in Japan, especially due to the long-standing maritime and territorial disputes between the two.

Take whatever stratfor says with a grain of salt. They are great for calling out for what COULD happen, but not so great at calling out the most highly probable outcomes.

That said, both sides want to make their amphibs into Jeep carriers with the F-35B.

They will probably be limited to numbers less than the Wasp & America classes.

However, for any other opponent other than China, they would be rather useful. Well, not sure about North Korea though.

They would be useful as backups for the US Navy.

The only problem being the two of them are not exactly friendly.

So, carriers, definitely alive and kicking.

posted on Feb, 14 2018 @ 10:58 PM
China has long range hyper sonic missiles.

These carriers will be sunk at the very start of any active hostilities with China.

What NK has up its sleeve is anybody's guess ... but I doubt they are this advanced ... however they do have other assets that may or may not be able to counter these threats.

Expensive floating targets in any real war scenario with China.

The funds tied up with carriers would be better put to a decent air force.

VTOL sounds great until you understand that the F35B cannot lift off with a full fuel load with weapons.

VTOL has too many hangups at this stage.


posted on Feb, 15 2018 @ 01:21 AM
They're probably far more useful as ASW platforms than jeep carriers, but the ability to have an extra flight deck open in an emergency could be the difference in putting an F-35B in the drink or not, so why not have that ability? Conceivably, if Japan foresees a possible need to act without foreign support, they might want the ability themselves to launch a first strike on an IRBM facility in NK or antishippping battery in the Spratleys, etc

posted on Feb, 15 2018 @ 04:07 AM
a reply to: pheonix358

F-35B is a STOVL aircraft, not VTOL. STOVL would be used on these carriers, not VTOL. That means yes, full fuel load and weapons.

posted on Feb, 15 2018 @ 06:20 AM
They'll have to do the same as the Queen Elizabeth class and add a ski jump to go full load. If they want to go down this route there best communicating with the RN about rolling landings as well so they won't have to dump fuel and ammunition on return to the carrier.

posted on Feb, 15 2018 @ 06:53 AM
a reply to: Funem

As you said, no doubt the ski-jump will enable higher payloads especially with external munitions. And a rolling vertical landing increases bring-back.

But the F-35 will still be able to operate with a full fuel load without a ski-jump. The USMC carries do not have ski-jumps and this is largely what the F-35B was designed around.

From the F-35 SAR (page 18), the threshold for the F-35B for STOVL Mission Performance - STO Distance Flat Deck:

With two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM120s, full expendables, execute a 600 foot (450 UK STOVL) STO from LHA, LHD, and aircraft carriers (sea level, tropical day, 10 kts operational WOD) and with a combat radius of 450 nm (STOVL profile). Also must perform STOVL vertical landing with two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM120s, full expendables, and fuel to fly the STOVL Recovery profile.

LHD = Wasp Class
LHA = America Class

The demonstrated performance is:

Execute 549 ft. STO with 2 JDAM (internal), 2 AIM120 (internal), fuel to fly 450nm

(which is better than the threshold, worse than the objective).

Note that "full fuel" is not specified but 450 nmi is the exact range you would expect given the F-35B's fuel load. The F-35A carries 39% more fuel, is slightly lighter when empty, and the combat radius with a slightly higher payload using a conventional runway is 49% higher.

Also note that demonstrated performance beats the objective and threshold in takeoff distance, but only meets the threshold combat radius not the objective combat radius. That's telling you it can lift more but there's just no space to put extra fuel!
edit on 15/2/18 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

edit on 15/2/18 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

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