Japan eyes muscling up Australia’s rebuilding navy – Asia Times

Japan eyes muscling up Australia's rebuilding navy - Asia Times

Japan and Australia are considering collaborating to build their Mogami-class battleships. If selected, the shared project would increase diplomatic defense capabilities, increase Japan’s native defense industry and counterbalance China’s rising marine power.

According to various government-related resources, Japan will get to upgrade its most advanced battleship and ship it to Australia if chosen to participate in the program starting this month, according to The Japan Times.

In February, Australia announced its plan to acquire 11 basic- function battleships, citing ships from Japan, Spain, South Korea and Germany as possible individuals, the reports said.

In addition to providing additional information and functionality requirements, Australia is anticipated to provide further information afterwards this year, according to the reports, and make a plan for possible joint development with each member nation.

According to The Japan Times, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries ( MHI), Ltd., a company that manufactures warships for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ( JMSDF), has reportedly started informal discussions with the Japanese Ministry of Defense ( MOD ). Adding any services and functions required by the American state to the Mogami-class ship is reportedly being considered by the Japan MOD.

Due to the combination of shipboard systems and other improvements, Mogami-class frigates may be operated with a staff of about 90, which is half as many as comparable standard ships.

The Mogami-class frigates from Japan are state-of-the-art stealth vessels with sophisticated radar systems and a dynamic armament suite for contemporary naval warfare and multi-mission capabilities.

The ships, according to Naval Technology, are a new generation of multi-mission-capable ships made to remove Japan’s aging Asagiri and Abukuma school destroyers.

The MOD allocated funds in 2015 for a compact-type ship warship with sophisticated radar systems, making the stealthy ships a result of Japan’s efforts to modernize its defenses.

Japan plans to build 22 Mogami- group battleships, with eight in the first sample, each costing about US$ 452.7 million. The ships boast a cunning design derived from MHI’s ATD- X Shinshin cunning warrior research, aiming to improve affordability, miniaturization, automation and versatility.

With a conventional displacement of around 3, 900 tons, the 130- meter extended and 16- meter large Mogami- class is comparatively small but very capable. It has the ability to deploy a variety of unmanned vehicles, including a helicopter, as well as an advanced integrated combat information center ( CIC ).

Armaments include a BAE Systems Mark 45 naval gun, Mk 41 VLS for missiles, anti- ship missiles and Raytheon’s SeaRAM system. The sensor suite comprises multifunction radar, EO/IR sensors, AESA radar, sonar systems and a combat management system.

The frigate can reach 30 knots thanks to a CODAG propulsion system, a Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine, and MAN diesel engines.

According to security exports, Japan’s export of Mogami-class frigates would strengthen its already-burgeoning naval partnership with Australia.

In a March 2024 article, Peter Dan claims that Japan and Australia prioritize a multipolar Indo-Pacific order, denial, and a regional balance strategy centered on US allies and partners.

Dan points out that this alignment would be enhanced by using the same ship types. In terms of capability, Dan says that the frigates are designed to operate the MH- 60 Seahawk helicopter, which the Royal Australian Navy (RAN ) is committed to acquiring to ensure compatibility with existing RAN operations.

He mentions that the Mogami-class can serve as a “mother ship” for unmanned underwater and surface vehicles, which is in line with naval warfare’s evolving nature and the RAN’s decision to develop ships with optional crews.

In addition, he mentions the Mogami- class could bring significant savings in maintenance, sustainment and future enhancements through economies of scale.

Dan points out that Japan may still need to develop complex relationships and procedures to export the Mogami-class frigate because it does not have a strong defense export record.

Building Mogami- class frigates in Australia would raise several challenges, including funding gaps and workforce limitations. Prior Australian shipbuilding projects have been marred by delays and overbudget overruns.

In a Defense One article this month, Dan Darling points out that the funding for Australia’s ambitious shipbuilding program is still largely unfunded, with the majority of the estimated$ 35 billion still unfunded.

Darling mentions Australia’s limited shipbuilding workforce, raising concerns about meeting delivery deadlines and maintaining enough skilled labor to avoid the so-called” Valley of Death,” a cycle of boom-and-bust orders that affects worker retention and industrial know-how.

He claims that in previous defense projects, delays and budget overruns have been noted, which could have an impact on the timely delivery of new ships.

In line with that, Darling claims that as Australia delays retiring older ships and launching new ones, there is concern about the immediate capacity reduction before the long-term expansion becomes effective.

He claims that the Australian government aims to avoid the errors of previous, expensive defense projects, which have experienced a number of production and delivery issues.

Darling also makes the case that skilled individuals are required to operate high-tech platforms and employ other cutting-edge technologies.

In addition, he says that Australia’s shipbuilding program must align with its strategic needs, given China’s People’s Liberation Army – Navy’s ( PLA- N ) rising capabilities.

Japan has remained pacifist since the end of World War II, but the possibility of moving its Mogami-class frigates to Australia may seem like a major step in this direction.

In a March 2024 Nippon article, Sato Heigo points out the policy implications of Japan’s potential export of Mogami-class frigates, contrasting it with the vague goal of” creating a desirable security environment” with its new arms export policy.

Heigo points out that discussions are still raging about whether to re-export military equipment developed with other nations to third countries. These discussions may have an impact on the outcome of other planned Mogami-class frigate exports, particularly those to Indonesia, which plans to purchase eight of these ships.

Heigo points out that the new policy suggests a more proactive approach to exporting weapons, but argues that Japan must strike a balance between this and its pacifist national identity. He adds that there is ethical opposition in the domestic community to the use of Japanese-made weapons in international conflicts.