MHI Launches Ninth Mogami-Class Frigate for Japan

MHI Launches Ninth Mogami-Class Frigate for Japan

Japan has launched the ninth vessel in its state of the art Mogami-class multirole frigate. Named “Natori,” this advanced warship represents a crucial step in Japan’s strategic naval expansion amid growing regional tensions.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) unveiled the JS Natori (FFM-9) on June 24 at its Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works, marking a pivotal moment in Japan’s naval modernization efforts. This 133-meter-long vessel, with a displacement of 3,900 tonnes, is part of a planned fleet of 12 Mogami-class frigates designed to enhance the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) capabilities.

Key Features

  1. Advanced CODAG propulsion system
  2. Top speed exceeding 30 knots
  3. Crew complement of approximately 90
  4. Estimated cost of 51.4 billion yen ($322 million)

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The Mogami-class frigates are equipped with cutting-edge weaponry and systems, including

  • BAE Systems 5-inch naval gun
  • Mk.41 Vertical Launch System
  • MHI Type 17 anti-ship missiles
  • Mitsubishi Electric OPY-2 multifunction radar
  • Unmanned underwater and surface vehicles for mine countermeasures

This new class of frigates plays a crucial role in Japan’s defense strategy, particularly in safeguarding the southwestern Nansei island chain. Stretching approximately 1,200 km from Kagoshima to Okinawa, this area includes the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, a focal point of tension between Japan and China.

The JMSDF’s ambitious naval program doesn’t stop with the Mogami-class. Plans are already in motion for a new class of 12 improved FFMs, scheduled for construction from 2024 to 2028.

Japan’s rapid naval expansion reflects growing concerns over China’s increasing maritime assertiveness in the region. By investing in these advanced frigates, Japan aims to maintain a strong presence in its territorial waters and protect its strategic interests.

The launch of JS Natori not only showcases Japan’s shipbuilding prowess but also signals its commitment to maintaining regional stability. As geopolitical tensions continue to simmer in the Asia-Pacific, the Mogami-class frigates will play a pivotal role in Japan’s defense posture and its ability to respond to potential maritime threats.

With the JS Natori set for commissioning by the end of fiscal year 2025, Japan moves one step closer to completing its formidable fleet of next-generation multirole frigates, solidifying its position as a key naval power in the Pacific.

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