Japan and South Korea Consider Carrier Options

Feb 13, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

An F-35B aircraft approaches a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft to refuel in 2016.

Flying over the North Sea, an F-35B aircraft approaches a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft to refuel on July 1, 2016, after taking off from Royal Air Force Fairford in Gloucestershire, England. The aircraft were scheduled to enter service with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force in 2018.

(MATT CARDY/Getty Images)


  • Two East Asian countries are looking to modify some of their vessels so they can carry F-35B stealth fighters.
  • Due to the smaller size of each country’s navy, the modernization plans will be limited.
  • China will soon possess a much larger carrier fleet, including vessels with catapult-launch technology similar to U.S. vessels.

With the seas heating up around them, Tokyo and Seoul are considering their next moves. Accelerating geopolitical trends, from the Chinese navy's continued development to North Korea's nuclear program, are driving Japan and South Korea, two key naval powers in the Western Pacific, to evaluate plans for the development of aircraft carriers. However, both appear to be pursuing a more restricted strategy because of their limited military budgets and -- in Japan’s case -- the constraints imposed by history. Nevertheless, their serious consideration of this naval expansion attests to the heated maritime competition in the region....

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