Japan is considering scaling down the size of its two planned Aegis system-equipped vessels for mobility, Kyodo News revealed, citing sources.
The Japanese government is also considering equipping the vessels — originally conceived for ballistic missile defense — with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Tokyo conceived the vessels as an alternative to the proposed Aegis Ashore systems it had planned to deploy in northeastern and western Japan.
The plan was scrapped in 2020 due to ballooning costs, technical issues, and public opposition, the outlet wrote.
The Revised Plan
Two years later, the ministry of defense proposed building two 20,000 tons vessels at an estimated cost of 1 trillion yen ($7.1 billion), commissioning the first one by the end of 2027.
The revised plan being considered calls for the vessels to be similar to the 8,200-ton Maya, the nation’s largest Aegis-equipped destroyers.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has concluded that the revised size would not affect the ship’s air defense capabilities.
It will also have better interoperability with other MSDF vessels, including Maya destroyers, along with faster deployment capability.
The addition of the Tomahawk, with a range of 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles), is part of Tokyo’s plan to develop counter-strike capabilities, Kyodo News wrote.
The government has articulated the capability “in its key long-term diplomatic and security policy guidelines,” which will be updated by the end of the year.
Conceived to Counter N. Korean Missile Threat
The ships were conceived primarily to counter North Korea’s growing ballistic missiles capabilities, including “multiple simultaneous launches and increased altitudes in their trajectories,” USNI News reported, citing defense minister Yasukazu Hamada.
Hamada said the ship’s size would allow it to be deployed in rough waters, and enhanced crew quarters would increase the vessel’s deployment period compared to the present fleet of eight Aegis destroyers.
The minister added that the ships would be equipped with hypersonic interception capability.