Writing for The National Interest, Kyle Mizokami recently made a solid case for Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) as the best navy in all of Asia.
While China fields a larger, ever modernizing navy with huge stores of cruise missiles and land-based assets, Japan fields a trim and very capable navy.
Their Kongo class destroyers share the Aegis combat system with the US’s Arleigh Burke class of destroyer, which recently proved itself off the coast of Yemen.
But perhaps the greatest advantage Japan’s MSDF has over China’s navy is its aircraft carriers. Its latest Izumo class “helicopter destroyer” can carry 14 helicopters and engage in advanced anti-submarine warfare as well as air assaults.
Also, Japan awaits the the F-35B, the short takeoff/ vertical landing variant of Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive and complex weapons system of all time.
Most notably, Japan maintains this potent force not as a traditional navy, but as a self-defense force. The force, while well rehearsed in taking islands and training with their US allies, most recently saw action after the massive earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011.
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During that disaster, Mizokami reports that the first ship responded in just 45 minutes, displaying the “professionalism and efficiency” expected from a world-class navy.