Japan’s MHI launches ninth Mogami frigate

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) subsidiary Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works has launched the ninth of a planned fleet of 12 Mogami-class multirole frigates for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The future JS Natori with pennant number FFM-9 entered the water during a ceremony held on 24 June. MHI will now commence fitting out of the frigate with the aim of delivery and commissioning of the frigate by the end of fiscal year 2025.

The Mogami-class frigates are being built at pace, with MHI recently delivering the fifth frigate, JS Yahagi, to the JMSDF in May. The vessel was also commissioned into service upon delivery.

Up to 12 of the 5,500 tonne multi-mission frigates are expected to be acquired for the JMSDF, followed by another 12 “New FFM” designs that would feature improved capabilities. Local media have reported, citing anonymous JMSDF officials, that the baseline frigate design failed to meet performance expectations and were limited in their growth potential.

The new frigates will essentially be improved Mogami-class ships that are set to be built to the design proposed by MHI and fitted with longer-range missiles, enhanced anti-submarine capabilities, and improved capabilities for various maritime operations.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) had earlier selected MHI and Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC) to be respective main and subcontractors to develop the New FFM design.

ATLA announced that the new design will have a greater overall length of about 142 m and a wider overall beam of about 17 m. In contrast, the current Mogami-class frigates feature an overall length of 132.5 m, as well as an overall beam of 16.3 m.

Two New FFMs worth US$1.2 billion have already been provisioned under the FY2024 budget request.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense also 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 as improvements for other maritime operations.

by Jr Ng