Japan aims for expansion of frigate capabilities with New FFM

Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC) to be respective main and subcontractors to develop a new and improved variant of the Mogami-class frigate currently used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

ATLA announced on 25 August that the “New FFM” will have a greater overall length of about 142 m and a wider overall beam of about 17 m, in addition to a larger standard displacement of about 4,500 tonnes. However, MHI had earlier stated that its design would displace around 4,880 tonnes at standard loads.

In contrast, the JMSDF’s Mogami-class frigates feature an overall length of 132.5 m, an overall beam of 16.3 m, and a standard displacement of about 3,900 tonnes.

Subsequently in a separate announcement on 31 August, the Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD) announced that it had requested 7.7 trillion yen (approximately US$53 billion) for fiscal year (FY) 2024, its largest ever.

JMOD said it will acquire a total of 12 new FFMs, with two vessels worth US$1.2 billion provisioned for under its FY2024 budget request. The JMSDF had originally planned to build a total of 22 Mogami-class frigates, but evolving mission requirements and publicly reported deficiencies in the design is understood to have spurred interest in an improved version.

The ministry stated that the New FFM will be armed with an improved version of the ship-launched Type 12 surface-to-surface missile as well as the new surface-to-air missile

It added that the new vessels will also be equipped with improved anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities – with a multifunction hull-mounted sonar, towed-array and variable depth sonars and the ability to deploy sea mines – as well improvements for other maritime operations.

The New FFMs will also be able to support a range of offboard surveillance and reconnaissance assets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) while simultaneously accommodating a naval helicopter.

by Jr Ng