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Japan works on new OPV design and pushes for exports

23rd July 2021 - 22:04 GMT | by Gordon Arthur, Koji Miyake in Christchurch & Tokyo

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The Japanese Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency released video footage of its planned next-generation OPV. (Photo: ATLA)

A new OPV design is one item for sale as Japan pushes hard to increase defence equipment exports. (ATLA)

On 1 July the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) in the Japenese MoD released a publicity video showcasing domestic equipment available for export. Among the products available was a concept for a new OPV under design for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The new OPV will be characterised by automation, adaptability, modularity and sustainability.

The video commentary stated: ‘Plans are now under way to develop next-generation offshore patrol vessels. They will achieve outstanding surveillance capabilities.’ Computer imagery showed a design with an integrated mast and stealthy silhouette.

Furthermore, the future OPV will have a smaller crew (expected to be around 30) and could possess a future autonomous navigation ability. It will have sophisticated ISR sensors and be armed with medium- and small-calibre guns, plus it will have a multipurpose stern hangar.

With the JMSDF facing personnel issues as the Japanese population continues to age, the service attaches importance to ships that require smaller crews.

Modularity is important, with deck space for modular payloads and ISO containerisation for mission modules. For ease of sustainment, the vessels will feature easy maintenance, low fuel consumption and a maintenance support package.

‘Discussions are under way right this moment to realise these next-generation offshore patrol vessels,’ ATLA claimed. In 2019, both Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding revealed designs for a new Japanese OPV. The former, for example, was envisioning a 1,500t-2,000t vessel between 85m and 100m long.

With a limited armament no larger than a 76mm gun, the OPVs will be responsible for patrolling tasks, taking over the role from such classes as Abukuma destroyers and Hayabusa missile patrol boats. 

Current plans, according to the 2019 National Defense Programme Guidance document, are to obtain 12 OPVs. The first four are to be serving in the JMSDF by FY2024, and the ...

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