Japan commences sea trials of latest Aegis missile destroyer

JS Maya

The second of two Maya (Improved Atago)-class guided missile destroyers built for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has commenced sea trials in anticipation of its induction into service in March 2021.

Haguro (Maya-class Missile destroyer)

The 170-metre-long Haguro, which typically displaces around 8,200 tonnes, left its builder Japan Marine United Corporation’s shipyard at Isogo, near Yokohama, on 23 June. The ship will be the last of eight Aegis combat system-equipped missile destroyers that will enhance Japan’s sea-based ballistic missile defence (BMD) capabilities.

The Maya-class is an essentially an improved and slightly larger version of the JMSDF’s Atago-class Aegis missile destroyers, which have a standard displacement of approximately 7,700 tonnes and are 5 metres shorter.

Aegis BMD system and armaments

At its core is the Lockheed Martin/Raytheon AN/SPY-1D(V) phased array radar and the Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B X-band fire-control radar, which enable precise detection and tracking of multiple simultaneous air and surface threats out to standoff ranges.

The type is equipped with the US-developed Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, which enables the sharing of detailed information with other CEC-equipped ships and aircraft such as the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft operated by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and US Navy (USN) to enhance surveillance and targeting.

It is fitted with 96 Lockheed Martin Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS) cells – 64 cells fore and 32 cells aft – that can be armed with Raytheon’s Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA surface to air missiles that have been specifically designed to intercept short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Surface threats can be engaged with its BAE Systems Mk 45 Mod 4 127 mm main gun and eight sea-skimming Mitsubishi Type 90 SSM-1B anti-ship missiles.

Sister-ship JS Maya was commissioned into JMSDF service on 19 March.

More BMD ships being considered

Japan’s Defence Minister Taro Kono revealed during a House of Representatives hearing on 16 June that the country may build more destroyers following the government’s decision to suspend its plans to deploy two land-based Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore BMD systems.

by Jr Ng