Jul 12, 2014
Japan sets out plans to buy amphibious assault ships
"We are intending to acquire a transport ship capable of promptly sending out Self-Defense Force (SDF) units on missions to defend Japan's remote islands," Onodera told reporters after inspecting the Wasp-class assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) at the US Navy's San Diego base on 7 July.
"It's a multifunctional transport ship capable of providing assistance in a timely manner when a major disaster breaks out," he said.
The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) already operates three Osumi-class tank landing ships (LST), JS Osumi , JS Shimokita and JS Kunisaki , which all have a well deck embarking two Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft and a parking deck that can embark land vehicles.
Access is via lifts to the main deck or a ramp on the starboard side. The main deck is split between space for more land vehicles and a large helicopter landing pad aft the superstructure.
The Osumi class will be upgraded to allow them to embark BAE Systems AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicles and Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, both of which Japan intends to buy from the United States.
Asked about the difference with the existing Japanese ships, Onodera pointed to the fact that the Wasp class can carry many more LCACs below deck, and that the upper deck can carry many aircraft including MV-22s. He also said the ship is also fully compatible with operations using AAV7s.