Japanese Defense Budget Expansion Includes Two 20,000 Ton Cruisers

According to Mainchi Shimbun, the Japan Ministry of Defense announced on August 31 that it will commission two Aegis-equipped surface combatants to replace the earlier plan of Aegis Ashore installations, commissioning one by the end of fiscal year 2027, and the other by the end of FY2028 – an ambitious design and construction turn around time. The budget for design and other related expenses are to be submitted in the form of “item requests”, without specific amounts, and is expected to clear legislation by FY2023. Construction is to begin in the following year of FY2024.

The Chinese 11,000 ton Type 055 destroyer is the largest surface combatant in production (JMSDF)

In response to the abandoned project to construct two Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense systems in the Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures of Japan, a new resolution was passed in December of 2020 to construct two ships of similar capability for replacement. Current information describes the vessel with a standard displacement of 20,000 tons, an overall length no greater than 210 metres, and a beam no greater than 40 metres.

The class is thus expected to be the largest class in service of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, surpassing the two 19,000 ton Izumo class helicopter, and now F-35, carriers. The massive displacement will also make it the largest surface combatant in production in the world, far outweighing the Chinese Type 055 and South Korean Sejong the Great-classes, outweighing the two combined. The massive scale of the vessels will lend it stability under heavy sea states, increasing interception readiness, and increase endurance at sea, similarly increasing combat readiness.

Despite the massive stature, reports suggest a planned crew complement of around 110 sailors and officers, with private cabins for all onboard. In accordance with recent JMSDF designs for high-automation, a response to the shrinking number of personnel in the Force. The ships are to also be equipped to defend against Hypersonic Glide Vehicles, new hypersonic missile designs too evasive for current ballistic missile defense systems to reliably intercept.

The Maya class are the most modern aegis warships in Japanese service (JMSDF)

The Ministry has also made a record 5,594.7 billion yen (40 Billion USD) budget request for FY2023, including budgets for projects such as the accelerated deployment of long range counter-strike cruise missiles to destroy adversary installations, with the possibility of an even higher bill at the budget recompilation at the end of the year.

Header image: The Aegis destroyer JS Maya (JMSDF)