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Japanese join HMS Prince of Wales to pave way for F-35 operations by their Navy

1 November 2023
Six senior Japanese officers watched F-35 operations on Britain’s biggest warship to help them introduce the jet into service.

The delegation from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force joined HMS Prince of Wales for a fortnight of stealth fighter trials off the USA – helping to pave the way for their own trials in the same waters in 12 months’ time.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force is modifying its Izumo-class helicopter carriers so they can operate the F-35B – already in service with the UK’s two carriers.

Prince of Wales is conducting the third phase of complex trials with the jets - known as Development Test 3 (phases one and two were carried out aboard her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth) - extending the operating limits, increasing the sortie rate, testing payloads.

To see what’s in store – and to learn about the ever-growing capabilities of fifth-generation carrier strike operations, Captain Sato Tsuyoshi, Izumo-class special modification programme lead, and five colleagues were shown every aspect of life aboard Prince of Wales off the Eastern Seaboard, not least deck operations.

The two navies have been forging an ever-closer working relationship over the past decade, with increasing visits to Japan by RN vessels (not least HMS Queen Elizabeth herself on her 2021 maiden deployment) and Anglo-US-Japanese naval agreements.

Hopefully it is the first of many such collaborations which might one day lead to full interoperability between our respective carrier strike groups – it is quite possible we will one day see a Japanese F-35B landing on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales.

Lieutenant Commander Roderick Royce

“It has been my privilege to help HMS Prince of Wales host our friends and allies from the both the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and the Japan Air Self-Defence Force to share in an exchange of knowledge on all things Development Test and Carrier Strike,” said Lieutenant Commander Roderick Royce, who hosted the Japanese delegation.

“Hopefully it is the first of many such collaborations which might one day lead to full interoperability between our respective carrier strike groups – it is quite possible we will one day see a Japanese F-35B landing on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales.

“My sincere thanks to the ship’s company for their professionalism, enthusiasm and warm welcome when supporting this visit.”

Captain Sato JMSDF said: "It’s been an exciting study on board, seeing fixed wing operations as well as the traditions of the Royal Navy.

“The team have been so welcoming and without your support our study into operating F35-B for the Japanese Self-Defence Forces would not have been as successful.”

 

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