Japan is getting back into the projection of military power game

From Strategy Page is the story on Japan’s new warships:

Japan launched the first of its new helicopter-carrying destroyers, the Hyuga, amid great fanfare. This vessel, officially 13,500 tons, will be able to carry helicopters. Plans are for them to mostly carry SH-60 helicopters, but the Hyuga will give Japan its first real power projection capability since 1945.

This ship in the same weight range of the European “Harrier carriers” (the British Invincibles, the Italian Garibaldi, the Spanish Principe de Asturias, and the Thai Chakri Narubet-classes). While this ship is currently planned to carry helicopters only, European experience (particularly from the British) has shown that this can be an effective platform for fixed-wing aircraft, like the F-35B. That makes the designation of “helicopter carrying destroyer” technically true, but in reality a useful fiction. In essence, they could act as small aircraft carriers or as a landing platform helicopter like HMS Ocean if transport helicopters are used.

In essence, Japan will have a ship about the size of the vessels that were the centerpiece of the British response to a crisis halfway around the world 25 years ago, with a flight deck and an offset island. They performed well, too – just ask Argentina. The Hyuga means that Japan is back in the power projection business.

I can understand Japan making this move. The likely next President of the United States has a history of extremely close ties (in the way of massive and illegal “campaign contributions”) to the Communist Chinese government.

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