On October 3, two U.S. Marine F-35B fighters did something utterly common, yet historic. They landed on the deck of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) ship Izumo off the southeast coast of Japan—the first landing on a Japanese carrier by a U.S. fixed-wing aircraft since World War II.
The flights tested modifications to the ship, which ordinarily launches helicopters, to accommodate the short-takeoff, vertical landing F-35. Among the data captured during the test was the effect of the jet engines’ heat on the deck surface. Japan is acquiring up to 42 of the F-35B model from manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Japanese industry contributes to F-35A production in Japan, which is adding 105 F-35As to its air force. According to Marine Lieutenant Colonel Robert Guyette, who flew with his wingman Major Nicholas Dylan, staff at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and members of the JMSDF worked together to make sure the test was effective and safe.