Monday, September 19, 2022

If They Name Them “Yamato” and “Musashi” I will Probably Stroke Out

We talked about them a little bit on yesterday's Midrats, but I can't keep them out of mind - so, we'll start out the week looking at one hell of a fleet the Japanese seem to be building;

On the morning of September 1, the Japan Jiji News Agency suddenly reported news that the Japanese Ministry of Defense is preparing to build two new large warships. Its main features are: the standard displacement is about 20,000 tons, equipped with SPY-7 large radar originally used for land-based missile defense systems, equipped with American-made Standard-3 Block 2A anti-ballistic missiles, and Standard-6 long-range air defense missiles, made in Japan, Type 12 anti-ship missiles, and several other land-attack cruise missiles. This new ship, which can be fully classified as a heavy cruiser, is expected to enter service in 2027 and exist as a maritime mobile platform and a forward early warning and air defense base for Japan’s missile defense system.

Unless they are VERY far along in the process already, 2027 seem ambitious - but look again at what they are planning. 

An Arleigh Burke Flight III DDG displaces about 9,500 tons, just a little under a Ticonderoga Class CG. A Zumwalt Class DDG 15,600.

20,000 is a one big warship for a 21st Century navy to build. It makes sense though. If you consider that any static defense against ballistic missiles in Japan would not survive long due to their close proximity to the launch sites for ballistic missiles from China or North Korea - something underway is simply more survivable. Yes, they need more than two - but get started then see about getting more.

These aren't the only larger ships - modern Japanese technology ships - that Japan will have on hand.  The Izumo-class multi-purpose destroyers (AKA CVL) displace almost 20,000 tons empty 27,000 tons fully loaded. I am sure they have a follow-on carrier design somewhere. My guess is something between the Izumo and the Royal Navy's 65,000 ton Queen Elizabeth CV.

As we struggle to build a proper navy to meet the Chinese challenge, a militarily stronger Japan - if properly done - would be a tremendous asset in securing peace through deterrence in the Western Pacific, or in case of war, dominate the Northwest Pacific in a manner to free up the USN for other responsibilities.

I can see a few scenarios where the Japanese sit out a Pacific war, but I think they are unlikely to as it is in no way in their interest to have the Americans slink east of Wake.

Of course, as it is the the USN, funding is the key. There is new momentum to spend more on defense in Japan. As a maritime and aerospace power (as the USA is too, ahem), one would hope most of the increases would go to her navy.

We'll see, but until then ... I cannot wait to see the design for that 20,000 ton Japanese beauty.

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