Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force on Tuesday commissioned the JS Kumano, a multi-mission stealth frigate with “destroyer capabilities” and the capacity to operate with a smaller crew than previous models.
The JS Kumano was launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which was given the contract by the Japanese Defense Ministry in 2018 to build the first two of the planned four frigates for the country’s navy.
The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force said in a tweet that the new Mogami-class multirole frigate was designed to be “compact and manpower saving.”
The 133-meter-long multirole frigate has a displacement of about 5,500 tons and a maximum speed of over 30 knots, with the capacity to operate with a crew of about 90, according to Naval News.
The new stealth frigate is equipped with anti-ship missiles, anti-mine sonar, anti-submarine sonar, a naval gun system, a remote weapon system, and sea mines for offensive mine warfare, among other things.
It was formally launched by Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding at the Tamano shipyard in November 2020, before MHI took over the company’s naval and governmental ship business last year.
The vessel is the second ship in the class, following the lead ship JS Mogami, which was launched in March last year. MHI launched the third vessel in the class, JS Noshiro, in June 2021, and the fourth stealth frigate, JS Mikuma, last December.
22 MAR, the JMSDF held the Ship Commissioning ceremony of the JS KUMANO at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. JS KUMANO is a new JMSDF ship, both compact and manpower saving.#jmsdf pic.twitter.com/iqDvO4VQZT
— Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (@jmsdf_pao_eng) March 22, 2022
According to reports, Japan plans to procure a total of 22 Mogami-class stealth frigates at an estimated cost of 48 billion yen ($396 million) per unit to replace the Asagiri-class and Abukuma-class destroyers.
The government approved a total of 5.4 trillion yen ($47 billion) defense budget in December last year, which includes 110 billion yen ($908 million) allocated for the ninth and tenth ship of the Mogami-class frigates.
By comparison, the Asagiri-class destroyer is 137 meters long and has a displacement of 3,500 tons, with a crew complement of 220. While the 109-meter-long Abukuma-class destroyer has a displacement of 2,000 tons and can operate with 120 crew members.
The Mogami-class stealth frigates may operate with a smaller crew of 90, indicating a high level of automation than the two previous models, which would allow JMSDF to cope with a shortage of personnel.
Japan’s declining birth rates have resulted in a shrinking recruitment pool, with the Japanese Self Defense Force unable to meet recruitment quotas since 2014, necessitating the development of new technologies to save manpower.