December 31, 2003
The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense force is developing two new classes of destroyers. The first of these two classes are Improved Kongo-class Aegis destroyers, the second is the Takanami-class destroyers.
The Improved Kongo-class ships are to the baseline Kongos what the American Burke IIA-class destroyers are to the baseline Arleigh Burke-class vessels. These 7,700-10,000 ton vessels will likely replace the older Tachikaze and Amatsukaze classes of air-defense destroyers, the latter of which has already been retired. As many as four of these vessels are slated to be built, each carrying two SH-60J Seahawk helicopters (with anti-submarine torpedoes or Penguin anti-ship missiles).
The 4,600-ton Takanami-class destroyers are an improved version of the earlier 4,400-ton Murasame-class destroyers (with a five-inch gun as opposed to a three-inch gun, and featuring a better vertical-launch system arrangement). The lead ship was named after a vessel lost in the Battle of Tassafaronga, one of the last-clear-cut victories Japan had in World War II (the IJN sank or damaged four American heavy cruisers, with Takanami being the only ship lost on the Japanese side). The Takanami-class destroyers are slated to replace the older Takatsuki-class DDAs and the Yamagumo-class DDKs. However, the total production is greater than the ships that are being replaced, and the Takanami-class design is capable of carrying SM-2 anti-aircraft missiles. By 2010, projections are for Japan to have as many as forty-six destroyers of various classes. Harold C. Hutchison