MELBOURNE, Australia – Japan has launched the first of a new class of diesel-electric submarines, which will complete the planned expansion of the US ally’s submarine fleet to 22 boats when it enters service.
The new submarine, called Taigei, meaning Big Whale, was launched at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Kobe on Wednesday. This is the first successor class of the current Japanese Soryu class boats.
Taigei is a 3,000-ton diesel-electric attack submarine measuring 84 meters (275 feet, 7 inches). Earlier, the design was known as the 29SS class, named after the 29th year of Emperor Akihito̵
Like the last two Soryu-class boats, the Taigei will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries as an energy source. Japan has conducted extensive research on the use of lithium-ion batteries on board submarines since the early 2000s and says they need less maintenance and are able to last longer at high speeds while submerged. , compared to lead batteries.
Japan is the only known country to have operating submarines using lithium-ion batteries.
Taigei will now undergo installation and naval testing on the builder before being commissioned by the Japanese Naval Self-Defense Forces in 2022. When commissioned, it will become the 22nd submarine in service, completing plans. to increase Japan ‘s sub – fleet to 22.
The increased underwater force will consist of nine older submarines of the Oyashio class, 12 Soryus and Taigei. Japan has plans for two more Taigei-class submarines and has asked for $ 654.1 million for another boat in a recent defense request.
The decision to increase the submarine power of 16 boats was announced in the Guidelines of the National Defense Program for 2010 and comes when Japan continues to keep a close eye on China’s military modernization and growing self-confidence in the region.