Japanese television station NHK reported that the USS Miguel Keith, an expeditionary mobile base ship, arrived in Sasebo, Japan, on the 8th, the first deployment to the Western Pacific since the ship’s commissioning, to counter the growing naval power of the Chinese Communist Party. The official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the Global Times, today (14) reported under the headline “What do you want?” The headline questioned whether this was a provocation by the U.S. to the Chinese Communist Party.
Some analysts believe that the ship can carry F-35B fighter jets, deployed in Japan mainly to deal with the Chinese Communist Party. However, Chinese experts believe that the ship is less likely to support F-35B operations, and that its primary use will remain support and security, and that it will have a poor self-defense capability and limited survivability in a high-intensity conflict.
“The USS Miguel Keith departed Hawaii on Sept. 20 and berthed near the White Beach Naval Facility in Uluma, Okinawa Prefecture, on Oct. 6, before arriving at the port of Sasebo in western Japan on Oct. 8.
“The USS Miguel Keith, commissioned in May, is one of three expeditionary base ships deployed by the U.S. Navy. The ship is about 240 meters long, displaces 90,000 tons, has a maximum speed of 15 knots, has a maximum range of more than 17,000 kilometers, can be used as a helicopter landing base, and can also provide logistical support for military operations.
The ship performs auxiliary and security missions, relying primarily on embarked helicopters, tilt-rotor aircraft, manned and unmanned boats, and special forces to perform anti-mine, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, maritime security operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, crisis response, and logistical support missions.
In addition, it can perform amphibious delivery and maritime transport missions. It can carry 100,000 gallons of potable water and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 aviation fuel, and is capable of being a platform for reloading and refueling helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft.
When the ship was first commissioned, some experts realized it might come to the Western Pacific. Other analysis suggested that the ship could carry F-35B fighters, the equivalent of an aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship.
Chinese military expert Zhang Xuefeng told the Global Times that the F-35B operates on the ship with a short takeoff and vertical landing, mainly because the short takeoff allows the aircraft to accelerate through a skid and take off with the lift of the aircraft wings in order to carry more fuel and ammunition. The British carrier also uses a sliding deck to further improve F-35B takeoff efficiency.
Zhang Xuefeng said that the Expeditionary Mobile Base Ship does not use a straight-through deck, and there are buildings in front and behind the deck, which cannot support the F-35B’s glide takeoff. If the vertical takeoff is carried out, the fighter is basically not of practical operational significance due to takeoff weight restrictions.
At the same time, the ship’s deck has not been treated to resist high temperatures, and it is difficult to withstand the high temperature ablation of the F-35B’s tail flame, and cannot support vertical landing. When the U.S. designed this warship, it did not consider carrying the F-35B, so it was not equipped with guidance communication systems, landing systems and so on. Therefore, in its current state, the base ship is basically unable to take off and land the F-35B.
Zhang Xuefeng said, the expeditionary mobile base ship Miguel Keith does not use straight through the deck, there are buildings in front of and behind the deck, can not support the F-35B taxi takeoff.