Japanese shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Maritime Systems Co., Ltd. held a delivery ceremony and a «self-defense ship flag raising ceremony» on March 7, 2023 for the ‘Mikuma’. The event means the ship, the fourth Mogami-class FFM, was officially commissioned with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
JS Mikuma (FFM-4) named after the Mikuma River (Mikuma-gawa) located in Oita Prefecture was launched by local shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Nagasaki on 10 December 2021.
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.
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/435 feet and a beam of 16.3 meters/53.5 feet. It will have a maximum speed in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h. 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/127-mm naval gun system ×1;
- Japan Steel Works 12.7-mm Remote Weapon System ×2;
- 41 VLS;
- Raytheon SeaRAM ×1;
- MHI Type 17 anti-ship missiles ×8;
- Mitsubishi Electric OPY-2 multifunction Radar;
- Mitsubishi Electric OAX-3 Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) sensors;
- Hitachi OQQ-11 anti-mine sonar;
- NEC OQQ-25 anti-submarine sonar (Variable Depth Sonar/Towed Array Sonar Systems – VDS/TASS);
- UUV (OZZ-5 by MHI) and Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) 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: 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.