The USV is being manufactured by Japan Marine United (JMU) Defense Systems, a Japanese defense company (subsidiary of local shipbuilder JMU). It will be installed on JMSDF’s newest vessel, the Mogami-class FFM (multi-mission frigate). The USV will be operated in conjunction with the OZZ-5 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). The OZZ-5 will launch from the Mogami-class with the USV and follow a pre-planned route to search the sea area where the existence of mines is estimated.
The role of the USV is to run alongside the surface of the ocean on top of the OZZ-5, acquire data captured by the OZZ-5’s sonar in real time via sound waves, and transmit this data to the Mogami class via radio communication. These acquired underwater data will be processed on board the Mogami class to confirm the existence of mines. And if mines are found, USVs will carry out minesweeping. USVs tow tools that mimic the sound and magnetism produced by naval vessels to blow up mines, or tow wire cutters to cut the mooring cables of mines and bring them to the surface.The USV is also capable of carrying an Expendable Mine Disposal (EMD) in the center of the hull, which can be used to remotely detonate mines.
The first three Mogami-class frigates have been launched so far (with one of them just starting sea trials). The frigates won’t feature the USVs yet when they are commissioned with the JMSDF. Instead, they will initially only come with the OZZ-5s. However, Japan’s defense budget for FY2022 will include funding for the procurement of these USVs, and their introduction is expected to proceed gradually.