JS Ise. Creative Commons photo, Flickr user woinary.

JS Ise, the second and last of the Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers, has officially joined the fleet. Ise was commissioned into the Maritime Self Defense Forces on March 16th, 2011, five days after the Tohoku Earthquake. Ise was built by IHI at the Yokohama Shipyard and launched in August 2009.

At 18,000 tons fully loaded, Hyuga and Ise are both two and a half times larger than the ships they were designed to replace, the Haruna-class destroyers. The MSDF seems to be following the lead of the U.S. Navy in fielding fewer, heavier ships.

JS Haruna.

There is some speculation that the Hyuga-class ships could embark  a small contingent of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. However, the ship is not equipped with a bow ski-ramp necessary to launch such fighters, and the two hangar elevators are located down the center of the flight deck. Sorry, maybe the 22DDH ships will be more accommodating.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch