Kumano (くまの) named after the Kumano river in the Kii Peninsula of central Japan, located in Nara, Wakayama and Mie Prefectures) was launched by local shipbuilder Mitsui E & S Shipbuilding Co., Ltd in Okayama in November 2020. The vessel is actually the second ship in the class: FFM #1 known as Mogami (もがみ) was launched in March 2021. The third vessel in the class, Noshiro (のしろ), was launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Nagasaki in June 2021. FFM #4 was launched in December last year.
The Mogami-class / 30FFM (also known as FFM and previously known as 30DX) is the next generation multi-mission frigate designed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). A total number of 22 Frigates are expected to be procured for the JMSDF.
The two shipyards in charge of building the frigates of the class are Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Nagasaki and Mitsui E&S in Okayama. MHI is acting as prime contractor for the program.
Mogami-class / FFM characteristics
According to MHI, the FFM multi-mission frigate will have a full load displacement of about 5,500 tons, with a length of 132.5 meters and a beam of 16.3 meters. It will have a maximum speed in excess of 30 knots. The crew complement will be quite low, at about 90 sailors, indicating a high level of automation on board.
The FFM will be equipped with a wide variety of weapons and systems as listed below.
- BAE Systems Mk.45 mod.4 5-inch naval gun system ×1
- Japan Steel Works 12.7mm Remote Weapon System ×2
- Mk.41 VLS
- Raytheon SeaRAM ×1
- MHI Type 17 anti-ship missiles ×8
- Mitsubishi Electric OPY-2 multifunction Radar
- Mitsubishi Electric OAX-3EO/IR sensors
- Hitachi OQQ-11 anti-mine sonar
- NEC OQQ-25 anti-submarine sonar (VDS/TASS)
- UUV (OZZ-5 by MHI) and USV (unknown type) for mine counter measures
- Sea mines for offensive mine warfare
Funding for the installation of Mk. 41 VLS
Initially, the Mogami-class was only “fitted for but not with” (FFBNW) Mk. 41 vertical launch system (VLS). This changed at the end of 2021: According to our Japan-based contributor, Yoshihiro Inaba, In late November, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced the supplementary budget for FY2021, which included a budget for two VLSs sets for FFM ships. Two FFM frigates will get 16 cells each (allowing for a total of 32 quad-parcked ESSM each). The total supplementary budget is about $6.8 billion, of which about $74 million is for the purchase of the VLS shipsets. Originally, the FFM 9 and 10 specified in the defense budget request for FY2022 included a budget for VLS. Therefore the VLS specified in this supplemental budget is for installation on any of the FFM ships 1 through 8.