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Japan outlines funding proposal for new OPVs, anti-submarine helicopters in 2023

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries XSH-60L prototype, seen here in a test flight, took to the skies for the first time on 12 May 2021 from Nagoya Airport. Japan has proposed an acquisition programme for six SH-60L airframes, which is based on the XSH-60L, for its 2023 defence budget. (MHI)

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has requested funding for a new class of offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and a new type of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter in its 2023 defence budget proposal.

Besides these new platforms, the MoD has also included two more Mogami-class multirole guided-missile frigates, a Taigei-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK), and a Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) in its proposal.

The new OPV class will likely derive its design from the 95 m concept that was submitted by Japan Marine United (JMU) for the country's next-generation patrol vessel programme.

The helicopter-capable OPV will displace about 1,920 tonnes. It will be powered by engines arranged in a combined diesel-electric and diesel (CODLAD) configuration and it can attain a maximum speed of more than 20 kt. Its primary weapon is a 30 mm naval gun in the forward section.

Each OPV should cost around JPY9 billion (USD62 million) and the Japanese MoD has proposed to procure four vessels in 2023. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) is expected to operate a fleet of 12 OPVs in this class.

In addition to this, the MoD has also requested funding for six new ASW-capable naval helicopters, provisionally known as the SH-60L. It will be based on the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)-developed XSH-60L prototype that first flew in May 2021.

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