The launch of this sixth unit follows the commissioning last week of the 3rd ship-in-class, JS Noshiro FFM-3 「のしろ」 with the JMSDF.
The first ship-in-class, Mogami, was launched in March 2021 by MHI (Naval News was on site to cover the event) and commissioned with the JMSDF in April this year. Another shipyard, Mitsui E & S Shipbuilding located in Okayama launched the second ship of the class, Kumano, back in November 2020. The third vessel in the series, Noshiro, was launched by MHI in June 2021 while the fourth FFM, Mikuma, and fifth one, Yahagi, were launched by the same shipyard in December 2021 and June 2022 respectively.
The vessel is named after the Agano River (あがの, 阿賀野川 Agano-gawa) a river in the Hokuriku region of Honshu, Japan. It is also called the Aga River or the Ōkawa River in Fukushima. All ships of the class are named after famous rivers in Japan. The shipyard will now proceed to the fitting out stage of the frigate, ahead of its delivery and commissioning set for the end of 2023/early 2024.
The FFM (also known as 30FFM and previously known as 30DX) is the next generation multi-mission frigate designed for the JMSDF. A total number of 22 Frigates are expected to be procured for the JMSDF.
The two shipyards in charge of building the first two frigates of the class are Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Nagasaki and Mitsui E&S in Okayama.
Mogami-class FFM characteristics
According to MHI, the FFM multi-mission frigate has a full load displacement of about 5,500 tons, with a length of 132.5 meters and a beam of 16.3 meters. It has a maximum speed in excess of 30 knots. The crew complement is 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.