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.
It should be said that when you see these basic design indicators, especially when you find that this is actually a large number of advanced weapons and equipments, and has a displacement that exceeds other naval forces of the same type of warship, it is always easy to think of the outbreak of the Pacific War. Previously, the “Yamato” and “Musashi” super battleships built by the Japanese Navy at that time. In fact, the Jiji News Agency of Japan quickly listed the 20,000-ton new ship in the news, which is most similar to the “Yamato” class battleship. That is to say, due to the extensive use of automated equipments, the new ship is expected to carry only 110 crew members. Given its considerable tonnage, each crew member will be able to have his own single room at that time. This kind of thinking is quite similar to that of the “Yamato” and “Musashi” during the Pacific War.
As for this large plan, there have been many voices of doubt in Japan. They believe that this kind of special warship, which is highly focused on maritime anti-missile operations, so that other aspects are greatly restricted, has not been verified before, and the specific combat effectiveness is very debatable, if you are not careful, you will be reduced to “waste warships” like “Yamato” and “Musashi”, which are extremely expensive but have little practical effect. In fact, this kind of thinking is a bit too much. Considering the many requirements listed on the new ship are very demanding, it is almost impossible to start service around 2027. Although the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has begun to allocate related expenses, it is still a long way from the official start of development, because Japan currently seriously lacks the ability to design and build warships of this high level.
On the surface, the “Izumo” class aircraft carrier, which is newly built by the Japanese shipbuilding industry and is currently in the transformation stage, has a full-load displacement of up to 26,000 tons, which is not too far from the 20,000-ton displacement of this new ship that has just emerged. The gap between different types of warships is actually very large. For example, the Chinese Type 075 amphibious assault ship is generally considered to have a full-load displacement of nearly 40,000 tons, but its production unit calls it a “20,000-ton ship” in its external announcement, because the amphibious assault ship is designed to carry amphibious operations. The platform is the main one, and there is a lot of space for cargo in the cabin, and the gap between before and after full load naturally becomes large. The same is true for helicopter carriers of the “Izumo” class. In order to carry more than 10 helicopters, there is a large amount of hangar space inside.
But for destroyers and cruisers, carrying one or two carrier-based helicopters is enough to meet aviation needs, and the internal design is naturally relatively thick. If only the standard displacement tonnage reaches the level of 20,000 tons, it means that a lot of equipment is filled inside, its design and manufacturing difficulty is much higher than that of “Izumo”. Specifically, if a large number of advanced shipboard equipments is to be integrated into an offshore platform, it is not just a matter of stacking up. At the same time, it does not interfere with the normal operation of other equipments, which requires time, technology and experience. Under the circumstance that the tonnage of the destroyer built in Japan was only about 10,000 tons and the technical indicators of the new ship were extremely harsh, it was almost impossible for Japan to start construction quickly to pursue service in 2027.
Therefore, this revealed plan is likely to be only one of the many plans of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force when planning its future development. As for whether it will work in the end, it depends on the specific circumstances. For example, at the 2011 Thailand Air Show, China exhibited a plan for an export amphibious assault ship that evolved from a domestically produced Type 071 dock landing ship with a displacement of more than 20,000 tons. Later, when the development of domestic amphibious assault ships really began, it was on the basis of this export plan that multiple plans of 25,000 tons, 30,000 tons, 40,000 tons, and 45,000 tons were proposed. At that time, China had already passed the transformation and construction of two aircraft carriers, breaking through the technical threshold of large-scale flight decks and internal hangars, and had 27,000 tons of 071 construction experience, so 075 will choose a high-level plan of 40,000 tons.
Today, directly affected by the increase in the size of the shipboard vertical launchers and the increase in the missions of destroyers/cruisers, the tonnage of capital ships for the development of various maritime forces is increasing. As a powerful maritime force, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force naturally recognizes this trend. When planning the next generation of destroyers, according to the tonnage increasing model, a 20,000-ton plan with superior performance but huge actual construction difficulty is listed. I can’t understand it, but this special warship is currently very difficult to build, and it is not ruled out that it is possible to serve in political games.