Japan launches first of its new class of submarines
MELBOURNE, Australia - Japan has launched the first of a new class of diesel-electric submarines that will complete the US allied’s proposed expansion of the U.S. ally's submarine fleet to 22 boats upon commissioning.
The new submarine, named Taigei (Big Whale), was launched on Wednesday at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Kobe City. It is the first of a successor class to Japan's current Soryu class boats.
The Taigei is a 3,000-ton diesel-electric attack submarine with a length of 84 meters. The design was previously known as the 29SS class, named after Emperor Akihito's 29th year of reign in Japan, which corresponds to 2017 on the Gregorian calendar.
Like the last two boats in the Soryu class, the Taigei will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries as a power source. Japan has done extensive research into the use of lithium-ion batteries on board submarines since the early 2000s, and says they require less maintenance and longer life at high speeds compared to lead-acid batteries at high speeds exhibit.
Japan is the only known country where submarines with lithium-ion batteries can operate.
The Taigei will now be equipped by the contractor and tested at sea before it will be used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2022. When operational, it will be the 22nd submarine in service with the force, completing plans to expand the Japanese submarine fleet by 22nd.
The enlarged submarine force will consist of nine older Oyashio-class submarines, 12 Soryus and the Taigei. Japan has plans for two more Taigei-class submarines and has requested $ 654.1 million for another submarine in the latest Defense Department budget inquiry.
The decision to increase the submarine force of 16 boats was announced in the 2010 National Defense Program guidelines. Japan continues to keep a close eye on China's military modernization and growing assertiveness in the region.
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