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SECURITY > Self-Defense Forces

Japan’s advanced stealthy frigate joins naval fleet

  • March 23, 2022
  • , Nikkei Asia , 1:29 a.m.
  • English Press

HIROSHI ASAHINA, Nikkei staff writer


TOKYO — Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force on Tuesday commissioned the Kumano multirole frigate, designed to be more compact and operate with a smaller crew than previous models.


Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Maritime Systems, the Kumano is the first FFM-class vessel to be commissioned. It is equipped with anti-air and anti-surface capabilities and can sweep for mines.


The MSDF plans to replace about 40% of its frigates and destroyers with FFM vessels by the early 2030s.


The Kumano measures 133 meters long and has a standard displacement of 3,900 tons. Its exterior is smoother than those of conventional models to make it less detectable to radar, and features more surveillance cameras so the ship can be run by a crew of about 90.


With falling birthrates nationwide hampering recruitment, Japanese forces face pressure to develop new equipment enabling them to save on crew. Japan will also consider exporting vessels based on FFM designs.


The Kumano was named after a river that divides Mie and Wakayama prefectures. It shares its name with a retired Chikugo-class destroyer escort.

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