Friday, July 23, 2010

New Japanese Naval Forces

Hyuga class helicopter carrier

Japan started years ago to face contingencies and participate to international security missions, the DDH-161 Hyuga "13,500 ton" ton Class helicopter-carrying destroyer, similar in design to a small aircraft carrier, provides the Maritime Self-Defence Force with greater capability for force projection.

The Hyuga class helicopter carrier is named after the Imperial Japanese Navy Ise class battleship Hyuga. At least two ships of this class are planned. Construction of the first ship was started in 2006 and was commissioned in 2009. The second ship is expected to enter service in 2011. This class will provide the Maritime Self-Defense Force materials of a new generation, adaptable to variable threats in Asian regional seas. Also future technology and construction development project would associate Japanese shipbuilders and western firms, informed sources said.

The Hyuga class warships are the largest combatant ships, operated by JMSDF and built since the World War II. The Hyuga class ships are called as helicopter destroyers in Japan, for political reasons. It is against constitution to operate what is referred as offensive weapons and exceeds necessary level of self-defense. The helicopter destroyer classification is not correct, as these ships are significantly larger than destroyers, have a full-length flight deck and relatively large air wing. Currently these warships are not capable of operating fixed-wing aircraft, as they lack a ski-jump bow and other equipment. Nevertheless they needs only little modification and may be outfitted with V/STOL aircraft in the future.

The Hyuga helicopter carrier is armed with a single 16-cell Mk.41 vertical launch system with a mix of ESSM surface-to-air missiles and ASROC anti-submarine missiles. Several missiles can be guided simultaneously to various incoming threats. Other weapons include two Phalanx CIWS for self-defense and two triple 324-mm torpedo tubes. The Hyuga class has no provision for amphibious assault, however it is clear that these ships could carry far more that 350 naval crew

For the time being, it is a matter of international assistance and monitoring with destroyers currently dispatched in the West of Indian ocean, as announced on Asian Gazette, the Japanese defense minister today Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said that his ministry is considering allowing Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to be deployed off Somalia to refuel foreign ships engaged in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

"We are examining various options for international contributions by the Self-Defense Forces, including U.N. peacekeeping operations," Kitazawa told a press conference. "(The refueling mission) is among them."

While declining to comment on whether the government will submit a bill for the refueling mission to an extraordinary Diet session this fall, Kitazawa said, "It would be quite hasty to give up on any important international contributions," just because of possible gridlock in the so-called divided Diet, in which the opposition bloc controls the upper house. Kitazawa indicated that he would seek the support of opposition parties if the government does decide to submit such legislation to the Diet.

✍✍✍ France and Russia "Mistral" agreement

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday he was "certain" France would build two Mistral class helicopter carriers for Russia. Russia hopes to buy four Mistral class warships to modernise hardware that was exposed as outdated during its war against Georgia in 2008. France has said it is willing to sell the ship, but talks have got bogged down over technology sharing. "We will build with our Russian friends the two Mistral," Sarkozy told workers at a shipyard in Western France. "The contract is still in negotiations, but the decision is taken ... it's certain."

Indeed... "The Mistral and Tonnerre BPC (bâtiment de projection et de commandement) ships, are the French Navy's new 21,300t amphibious assault, command and power projection ships. The ships have been built by DCNS in partnership with Thales and Chantiers de l'Atlantique. Each ship has the payload capacity and versatility to carry up to 16 heavy helicopters and one-third of a mechanised regiment, plus two LCAC hovercraft or up to four landing craft.

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