Japan - Amphibious Landing Dock (LHD) NEWCON
At the 2019 Tokyo International Defense Exhibition on November 18-20 in Chiba , the Japan Maritime Joint Corporation (JMU) demonstrated the new amphibious assault ship plan prepared for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and potential international customers, and said it was ready. Unlike the current Izumo-class helicopter transporters of the service, JMU's Future Landing Helicopter Dock will be a cargo / unloading ship capable of deploying armored amphibious assault vehicles and air-cushioned landing boats (LCAC), in addition of having a complete plane. flight deck length to support helicopter vertical landing operations.
The ship, which will have a crew of approximately 500 people, can accommodate up to five helicopters or V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft on its flight deck, with additional space for approximately five more helicopters or V-22s in the two aircraft hangars located below the flight deck. The JMU design shows that the ship will have three more hangars, the use of which will depend on the requirements of the JMSDF. The LHD will be able to ship up to two ships similar to (LCAC) in its well deck and more than 20 amphibious assault vehicles, such as the BAE AAV7A1, in its front storage section, according to a company official.
No information was provided on the number of troops that the ship will be able to transport. However, similar ships serving with other navies can usually carry 500 soldiers for long-term missions and up to 1,000 soldiers for short-haul missions.
According to the company, it is expected that the LHD, which will be able to reach a maximum speed of 24 kt, has a length of 220 meters [650 feet], a beam of 38 meters [125 feet], a draft of 7 meters [23 feet] and a standard displacement of 19,000 tons. However, many people are skeptical about the 19,000 tons displacement. Because from the standard displacement and main size announced now, this type of amphibious assault ship is smaller than the so-called "Izumo" class destroyer of the previous generation, and it is similar to the Korean "Dokdo" class amphibious assault ship previously targeted by the Japanese media.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense and shipbuilding companies have a long tradition of concealing the true full-load displacement of new ships by only reporting on the light displacement. Therefore, based on past experience, some Chinese defense analysts believed that the displacement of the next-generation amphibious assault ship of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force will be at least equivalent to that of the "Izumo" class warship, and may even be larger than the "Izumo" class, breaking the threshold of 30,000 tons. But this would require a length of about 250 meters, well in excess of the announced 220 meters.
The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force has not yet decided to purchase an amphibious assault ship, but it already has equipment intentions. Perhaps in the near future, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force will determine whether to equip it. At present, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has been equipped with 3 "Osumi" class dock transport ships, 2 "Hyuga" class helicopter carriers and "Izumo" class helicopter carriers, and already has up to 7 through deck hulls.
The "Osumi" design began in 1992. In October 1993, the first construction contract was signed with Mitsui Heavy Industries' Tamano Shipyard. The Maritime Self-Defense Force initially planned to build six large vessels, divided into two batches of three each, but only the first three were built. The first "Osumi" entered service in March 1998, the second "Shimokita" entered service in March 2002, and the third "Kunisaki" entered service in February 2003. It can only take off and land two medium-sized helicopters or one Osprey tilt rotor. Aircraft, the deck next to the island in the middle of the hull is only 12 meters wide, so the other decks are used to park vehicles and helicopters, and do not have aviation operational capabilities. In addition, the cargo bay below the deck is only 15 meters wide and cannot be used as a helicopter hangar, further limiting its air carrying capacity. Therefore, the "Osumi" class is a dock transport ship with Japanese characteristics, not a true amphibious assault ship.
The current Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force takes "outlying island defense" as one of its main directions and seek amphibious landing combat capabilities. In March 2018, the Japanese Land Self-Defense Force's "Amphibious Mobile Regiment" has been established, mainly responsible for future amphibious landing operations. Although there are currently only 1,500 people, there is still a tendency to expand in the future to about 3,000 people., and Japan has started to develop a new generation of amphibious armor assault vehicle.
The Japanese Navy has no formal requirements for this amphibious assault ship, but there is a significant gap in the existing fleet structure, so this amphibious assault ship can be filled. Tokyo is building an amphibious combat unit consisting of 17 MV-22 Osprey rotorcraft, 52 AAV7A1 amphibious combat vehicles, and 6 LCAC air-cushion landing craft to carry marines into battle. But landing craft, vehicles, and rotorcraft require ships to bring them to shore.
Neither the "Hyuga" or "Izumo" is an amphibious assault ship for the positioning of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The amphibious landing combat task is an additional task. As far as the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force is concerned, in addition to the helicopter command and control system and the command center, the most important task of the helicopter carrier is a large anti-submarine platform.
For Japan, even a small-scale amphibious combat fleet can allow the Marine Corps Brigade to achieve rapid deployment in other parts of East Asia and the Pacific, showing more of Japan's military power. This shows that Japan is increasingly diversified in security issues. The purchase of new amphibious assault ships would also allowed the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force to develop in line with the amphibious strength of its allies and competitors. The US Navy currently has 10 amphibious assault ships, including one deployed at a US military base in Japan. The Australian Navy also has two amphibious assault ships. The South Korean Navy is building three amphibious assault ships. In addition, the Chinese Navy launched the first amphibious assault ship in September 2019.
Although the Japanese Ministry of Defense (Ministry of Defense) has not yet established a formal requirement for this type of warship, a company official told Jane's that JMU anticipates the announcement will be made in the coming years. Preparatory work for the project, if the order is received, the project can be advanced quickly. The size of the boat is not an issue. The key depends on what is loaded. Looking at it this way, the F-35B is really a treasure. South Korea will also take the F-35B to the amphibious ship. East Asia has suddenly added several aircraft carrier formations.
If this type of ship eventually carried more than 20 F-35B fighters, its combat capability would be basically the same as or larger than that of a large and medium aircraft carrier equipped with a traditional F-18 Hornet carrier fighter. Coupled with the modified "Izumo" class quasi-carrier battleships, it will pose a very severe challenge to the Chinese Navy.
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