JMSDF commissions second Taigei-class submarine

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has commissioned its second Taigei-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK), the service announced on its social media account on 20 March.

The boat, which was ordered by the Japanese government under a US$545 million contract in 2018, was commissioned at the facilities of Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) in Kobe and is now in service as JS Hakugei (SS 514).

According to the JMSDF, the Taigei-class SSK – which means ‘big whale’ – has an overall length of 84 m, a beam of 9.1 m, a draught of 10.4 m, and a standard displacement of about 3,000 tonnes, which is comparable to the service’s in-service Soryu-class SSKs. It is operated by a crew complement of about 70 and has been designed to support female personnel.

Like the last two boats of the 12-strong fleet of Soryu-class SSKs, Oryu (SS 511) and Toryu (SS 512), the Taigei-class is equipped with lithium-ion batteries supplied by Kyoto-based GS Yuasa for extended underwater endurance and range. Japan is the first country to successfully field SSKs that employ lithium-ion battery technology, as opposed to conventional lead-acid batteries.

The Taigei-class will also employ a new advanced combat management system (CMS) ssubmarine comprising integrated command and control (C2), sensors, and weapons systems. These include the OYX-1 processing system, ZQX-12 submarine tactical display system, ZQQ-8 fibre-optic array sonar system, NZLR-2 electronic support measures (ESM) system, and ZPS-6H radar system.

Survivability is increased with a torpedo countermeasures system comparable to the one fitted to the last four Soryu-class boats.

In terms of armaments, the Taigei-class is equipped with six HU-606 533 mm torpedo tubes that can launch a variety of ordnance including the new Type 18 heavyweight torpedo. This is expected to replace the in-service Type 89 torpedo and feature enhanced performance and lethality.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has already allocated funds for the construction of three more Taigei-class SSKs: SS 515, SS 516, and SS 517. MHI has been contracted to build the third boat – the future JS Jingei – while KHI will construct the fourth boat.

Construction of up to seven boats by 2028 have been authorised under the MoD’s 2018 Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP), although it is believed that production could be further extended.

by Jr Ng