The Taigei-class is a conventionally powered diesel-electric class, but unlike other similarly powered submarines, the Taigeis can stay submerged for much more extended periods of time.
On March 9, local time, the new submarine “Taihei” of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force was officially commissioned. The submarine has a displacement of 3,000 tons, setting the record for the largest tonnage of Japan’s conventional submarines. Taigei submarine will be deployed at the Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture, responsible for the surveillance and monitoring around Japan.
With the JMSDF planning to increase its number of operational submarines from 16 to 22, this commissioning brings the submarine fleet up to its full number for the first time.
Japan’s latest “Big Whale” Taigei-class diesel-electric attack submarine is the first submarine to enter service. The submarine has a displacement of 3,000 tons, setting the record for the largest tonnage of Japan’s conventional submarines. Compared with previous models, the hull of the new ship is designed in a shape that is more difficult to be detected by the enemy, and it is equipped with a lithium-ion battery to extend the diving time, and its performance can be said to be world best conventional submarine.
Japan is the only country in the world to install lithium-ion batteries on submarines. It is said that after installing this new type of battery, the charging time of the “Taigei” class submarine can be within 1 hour, and the range can be increased by at least 2 times. The Taigei-class is equipped with a high number of lithium-ion batteries that store electrical energy created by diesel generators. Unlike the traditional lead-acid batteries that power most submarines, the new lithium-ion batteries can store more energy, allowing for greater speed and endurance underwater. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force began researching lithium-ion technology in the early 2000s; the batteries are also thought to be less maintenance-intensive than traditional batteries.
In terms of armament, the boat is equipped with type-18 torpedoes and “Harpoon” Block II anti-ship missiles with a range of 248 kilometers, so it has strong anti-submarine and anti-ship combat effectiveness.
They’re also likely Japan’s quietest submarines. Thanks to extensive research into reducing fluid noise, or the sound generated by water passing around the sub’s hull, and propulsion sound damping, the Taigeis are thought to be extremely quiet. Ultimately the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force would like to acquire seven Taigei-class submarines.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine fleet increase is very much in line with other Japanese defense developments. However, although the Japanese military is constitutionally bound to be a defensive force only, recent a recent flurry of capability expansion has caused some domestic consternation.
Most recently, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Izumo-class multi-purpose destroyers have been retrofitted to facilitate F-35Bs, the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the American-built Joint Strike Fighter. In order to not call the destroyers aircraft carriers, JMSDF has dubbed the class helicopter carriers, though they are functionally small aircraft carriers.
Taigei-class – What’s Next?
Though not the largest submarines in Asia, the Taigei-class represents a new class of small but very capable submarines that could arguably be among the most difficult to detect in the region. And with an eye on an increasingly belligerent China, the JMSDF is becoming more capable both above and below the waves.