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Two kinds of operations are conducted by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force [JMSDF] for the purpose of defending Japan: securing maritime traffic and securing Japanese territory. For Japan, which relies on foreign countries for the supply of almost all energy and food, the influence to national life is quite serious in case that maritime traffic is cut off. It can also be said that the impact to the world economy is significant in such case. Therefore, the JMSDF must be able to secure maritime traffic against attack by enemy submarines, surface ships and aircraft by effectively combining each operation such as surveillance, escort and defense of ports and straits. 
Japanese concerns about its neighbour have been heightened by the increase in the number of incursions into its Exclusive Economic Zone by Chinese naval vessels. According to Japan's Defence Agency, 31 Chinese military ships were sighted in Japanese waters during 2000, compared with the one or two of previous years. That these operations probably involved hydrographic and oceanographic survey of the region is a firm indication that submarine operations may follow. This serves to confirm in Japanese minds that, notwithstanding anxieties about North Korea's ballistic missile capability, China represents its primary security threat. But self-defence is not confined to home waters. Japan also has an interest in preserving its trade routes through the Malacca Straits to the Gulf. For this reason the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), while still constrained by the Japanese post-war constitution, continues to explore the limits of what is allowed and accepted. 
A highly significant development was the announcement that a new class of 13,000 ton destroyers would be aviation-capable and possibly of `through-deck' design.  The `Oosumi' class amphibious ships already have some aircraft carrier characteristics. Underwater, the quality of a force of 17 active submarines is being improved by the commissioning of the `Oyashio' class diesel submarines which may form the testbed for the fitting of air-independent propulsion in a future class. Improvements to the substantial surface fleet are being achieved by the introduction of the capable `Improved Murasame' class destroyers while the acquisition of air-to air refuelling aircraft opens up the possibility of land-based air defence aircraft operating in its support. The principal air defence platforms, the `Kongou' class, are based on the USN `Arleigh Burke' class and may also form the basis for the next step in the development of the rapidly expanding and increasingly sophisticated JMSDF.

JMSDF Fleet :

Surface Combatants :

- Improved Kongo Class Destroyer 

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The Aegis system would be installed on a Japanese improved Kongo-class destroyer expected to enter into service in 2006, according to Defense Daily.  Japan is expected to begin construction of a sixth Kongo-class destroyer in the near future, and Japan and the U.S. Navy have begun talks about purchasing a sixth Aegis system. Japan is presently the only other country that has the Aegis system.  The new improved KONGO class will resemble more closely the US Navy  Flight II A Burke Class Destroyer and with a helicopter  hangar.

- Kongo Class Large Destroyer  (4)

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Japanese variant on the US Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) design. Two more AEGIS ships may be ordered in 2001-2005.). The Aegis system is an intensified anti-aircraft missile system controlled by computers. The system is combined with a high-performance phased array radar system, and can search, detect, and recognize over 200 targets for instantaneous defense. The Aegis foreign military sales (FMS) efforts began in 1984, resulting in the first Japanese FMS case in 1988. The Aegis FMS programs are different than USN programs in that PMS 400 is not responsible for the ship hull and machinery or the antisubmarine warfare (ASW), electronic warfare (EW), and gun systems. The USN furnishes the Aegis AAW system and selected combat system elements, but the ship and the other remaining systems are built in Japan. Not all portions of the U.S. Aegis system are installed on the Japanese ship. The USN had earlier furnished TARTAR systems (the predecessor of Aegis) via FMS to Japan. The acquisition of Aegis required the Japanese to learn a new and much more complex system than TARTAR. The results were better than expected. The first ship, JDS Kongo, meeting all Japanese construction and test requirements, was commissioned on March 25, 1993, with all of the USN- supplied systems operational. The Kongo-class Aegis destroyers will be able to control missiles launched by a Murasame. The fourth and final of the Kongo-class, the Myoko, is to be commissioned this month.

Tukanami Class Destroyer ( Improved Marusame)

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The first two of the 4,600-ton (standard displacement) Improved Murasame-class destroyers were laid down on 25 April and 17 May 2000 at Tokyo and Nagasaki, respectively. 

- Murasame Class Large Frigate (7 in service,2 being built)

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The fifth unit of the basic, 4,400-ton version of the Marasame class, the Inazuma, and the sixth, the Samidare, were commissioned during March 2000, and the eighth and ninth ships of the class were launched in September to complete the series. All eight Murasames--top, right, the Kirisame launching--will carry Standard SM-2 missiles in their amidships vertical launch cells, now used only for ASROC antisubmarine missiles .Kongo-class Aegis destroyers will be able to control missiles launched by a Murasame.  

- Shirane Class ASW Helicopter Destroyer (2)

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Large destroyers with extensive helicopter facilities aft. Act as flagships for escort flotillas. Four large (13,500 ton std, 16,000 ton FL) helicopter 'destroyers' are planned as replacements for the existing DDHs. Can carry upto 3 SH-60J helicopters and basic armament consists of 1 8-cell Sea Sparrow launcher (24 missiles; manual reload), 1 ASROC (16 rockets total), 2 5/54 DP, 2 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, 2 triple 12.75 inch torpedo tubes.

- New Helicopter Destroyer Design

nddh.jpg (38832 bytes) A predictable political controversy erupted in the Japanese parliament late in 2000 over the design of a projected quartet of 13,500-ton (standard displacement; full load displacement probably would be on the order of 16,000 tons) "helicopter-carrying destroyers" to replace the current two Shirane and two Haruna-class flagship destroyers. Drawings made the planned ships appear somewhat similar to aircraft carriers, a type of ship considered purely an offensive system by many Japanese. Although the Japan Maritime Defense Force has for some time hoped to acquire Harrier shipboard fighters, the oddly arranged new destroyer design (which has flight decks fore and aft and a hangar-like superstructure spanning the mid-portion of the hull) officially is intended to carry only three SH-60J antisubmarine and one MH-53E mine countermeasures helicopter. The first of the quartet is to be requested under the fiscal year 2004 budget.

- Asagari Class Frigates(8)

07.jpg (21955 bytes) General purpose escorts. Displacement: 4,300 tons full load Aviation: Midships helicopter deck and hangar; 1 SH-60J helicopter Radar: OPS-14C/24 2-D air search Armament: 8 Harpoon SSM, ASROC, 1 8-cell Sea Sparrow, 1 76 mm OTO DP, 2 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, 2 triple 12.75 inch torpedo tubes

- Abukuma Class ASW frigate(6)

16.jpg (22478 bytes) Officially classified frigates, but essentially the same in mission and capability to the previous DDKs.

Submarines :

- Yushio Class Submarine (7)

39.jpg (25653 bytes) Displacement: 2,450-2,500 tons submerged Dimensions: 250 x 32.5 x 24 feet Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 1 shaft, 7,220 shp, 20 knots Crew: 75 Sonar: SQS-36J active, ZQQ-4 passive suite, BQR-15 towed Armament: 6 21 inch torpedo tubes (20 Type 72/80 torps, Harpoon)

- Harushio Class Submarine (6)

40.jpg (20097 bytes) Displacement: 2,750 tons submerged Dimensions: 262 x 33 x 25 feet Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 1 shaft, 7,220 shp, 20 knots Crew: 75 Sonar: ZQQ-5B suite with S-TASS towed Armament: 6 21 inch torpedo tubes (20 Type 89 torps, Harpoon, mines). To keep the attack submarine force at 16, the four-year-old Harushio-class Asashio was reclassified as a training submarine on 9 March 2000, joining the 1982-vintage, Yushio-class Setoshio in that role. Japanese training submarines retain their torpedo tubes, but the torpedo rooms are converted into berthing and instructional spaces for trainees.

- Oyashi Class Submarine (4 in service, 6 being built)

oyashio01_l.jpg (36050 bytes) Japan's Kawasaki Shipyard at Kobe built the third of ten planned 3,600-ton Oyashio-class submarines, the Uzushio, which was commissioned on 9 March 2000. Mitsubishi's yard at the same city built the Makishio, to be commissioned this month. Four more of the class are building or on order, with the tenth planned to commission in 2007. The 268-foot submarines carry 20 torpedoes and/or UGM-84C Harpoon missiles and, unlike the three previous Japanese submarine classes, have bow-mounted torpedo tubes and conformal sonar arrays.Displacement: 3,600 tons submerged Dimensions: 81.7 x 8.9 x 7.9 meters (268 x 29.2 x 25.9 feet) Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 1 shaft, 7,750 hp, 20 knots Crew: 75 Sonar: ZQQ-5B hull/flank arrays, ZQR-1 towed Armament: 6 21 inch torpedo tubes (20 Type 89 torps, Harpoon, mines) New-design SSK class.

Amphibious Ships :

- Osumi Class Dock landing ships (1 in service, 3 being built)

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.The second Japan Maritime Defense Force (JMSDF) Osumi-class dock landing ship was to launch during November 2000, and the third was laid down by Mitsui on 7 September. The 13,000-ton, 22-knot ships resemble small aircraft carriers but can accommodate only a single helicopter, and their stern wells can each hold two LCACs.The 584-foot dock landing ship Oosumi (bottom) can operate two air-cushion landing craft (LCACs). The dock landing ship Oosumi commenced sea trials on 25 September and was to be commissioned this month. Three more of the class may be built later to complete the replacement of the current six LSTs, whose normal employment is in resupply of Japanese offshore island facilities. The 584-foot Oosumi has a long, uncluttered vehicle parking deck topside that is surmounted by a blocky "island" superstructure offset somewhat to starboard, giving an appearance suggesting to some that she is somehow intended to be employed in the future as an aircraft carrier. The JMSDF, however, insists that the ship can handle only one CH-47 Chinook helicopter. In November, Textron Marine, New Orleans, delivered the first of two LCAC air-cushion landing craft intended to operate from the Oosumi's well deck. The JMSDF's mobility and endurance at sea remain severely constrained by a lack of adequate underway replenishment assets.

Aircraft of the JMSDF :

- P-3C/EP-3  Orion Patrol/Spy Aircraft

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The P-3 Orion land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft is operational in the airforces of ten countries. Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd based in Kobe, Japan, manufactures the P-3C aircraft in Japan under licensed agreement. Kawasaki is the prime contractor to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), for the supply of up to 110 P-3C aircraft. Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI), based in Tokyo, manufactures the engines.

- HSS-2B Patrol Aircraft

58.jpg (17212 bytes) As the first true attempt in manufacturing an anti-submarine helicopter in Japan after the war, the HSS-2B was manufactured under license with Sikorsky in the U.S. in 1960. MHI is the primary contractor. The original model of the HSS-2 began manufacturing in 1962, the first model completed in 1964; thereafter, upgraded to the HSS-2A in 1972 and the HSS-2B in 1977. A total of 167 units have been manufactured.

- SH-60J Patrol Aircraft

57.jpg (20013 bytes) As the successor of the HSS-2B anti-submarine helicopter, the SH-60J is a licensed modification of the U.S. Navy's SH-60B airframe. MHI is the primary contractor. It was developed under the unique concept of operation under Japan's policy to combat anti-submarineEanti-ship warfare by uniting the fleet with helicopters. Its first flight was in 1987, with a total of 70 units manufactured, including the test model.

- MH-53E Minesweeping Aircraft

56.jpg (22619 bytes) The MH-53 is a large scale helicopter developed by Sikorsky for the U.S. Marine, with its first flight in 1983. In Japan, the Marine Self-Defense Force introduced it as the marine-sweep helicopter, and MHI is in charge of re-assembling and maintenance. First delivered in 1989, with 11 helicopters in service up to date. The largest helicopter in the West with three 4,380shp engines.

Sources :

JMSDF Homepage
Hazegray ''World Navies Today''
World Navies In review by By A. D. Baker
''Handbook of the JMSDF''
Ships of the world

Visit the Site's Forum ''World's Armed Forces Forum'' 

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