Japan is planning to upgrade at least on of its ships to an aircraft carrier in preparation for a procurement of around 100 U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jets to counter Chinese military expansion in the Pacific.
According to the Guardian, Japan plans to upgrade its two Izumo-class helicopter carriers to transport and launch fighter jets.
The Nikkei News Service reported that Japan was set to purchase 100 F-35s from the U.S. in a deal worth more than US$8.8 billion.
According to CNN, the package includes F-35 A and B models. F-35As are similar to conventional fighter jets that use a runway for take off and landing.
F-35Bs have short take off and vertical landing capability, meaning they can be used at smaller airports or operate from flattop warships.
Japan's Izumo-class carrier is 814 meters long and can carry up to 14 helicopters.
According to former US Navy captain and current Hawaii Pacific University Professor Carl Schuster telling CNN, a refitted Japanese carrier would only be able to carry six to eight F-35Bs.
According to Mainichi Shimbun, the carriers would be used to defend Japan's remote south-western islands. (Next Animation via Reuters)