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SAS 2018: Japan's MHI Showcasing 30DX Multi-Mission Frigate Design


At the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2018 exposition currently held near Washington D.C., Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is showcasing for the first time the concept model of the 30DX multi-mission frigate.


Japans MHI Showcasing 30DX Multi Mission Frigate Design 1MHI showcasing its 30DX / Future Multi Mission Frigate concept model at Sea Air Space 2018


Japan's Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) announced on August 9th 2017 the launch of a new surface vessel programme called 30DX for the JMSDF. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) was selected as prime contractor while Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding (Mitsui) was selected as subcontractor. ATLA is a branch of Japan's MoD created in 2015 to "ensure technological superiority and respond to operational needs smoothly and quickly".

ATLA also announced that MHI would build the first vessel and Mitsui the second unit of the new class. Construction of the first two units is expected to begin in 2018; The series should consist of eight units built in pairs.


Japans MHI Showcasing 30DX Multi Mission Frigate Design 2MHI Future multi mission frigate.


The original plan considered a design similar to the American LCS concept, but finaly it looks like ATLA decided on a more conservative plan. MHI has been working (with its own funds) on the 30FF concept since 2015: A 3000 tons frigate capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots. However the latest ATLA CGI looks quite different compared to the 30FF design. The three main factors driving the 30DX design appear to be affordability, miniaturization/automation and multi-mission capabilities.

The 30DX will follow the latest Asahi-class of Destroyers. It will be quite smaller and some of its mission set include mine warfare. 30DX is expected to replace both the Asagiri-class destroyer (8 units built in the 1980ies) and the Abukuma-class destroyer escort (6 corvettes built in the late 1980ies/early 1990ies).


Japans MHI Showcasing 30DX Multi Mission Frigate Design 3 The frigate will be fitted with SeaRAM and some next generation anti-ship missiles.


According the ATLA, the 30DX is set to have a standard displacement of approximately 3,900 tons, a length of 130 meters and width of 16 meters. The top speed is set to be in excess of 30 knots. The propulsion system will be in CODAG arrangement with 1x Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine and 2x MAN diesel engines.

Specifications of the MHI scale model at Sea Air Space 2018 showed the same specifications except for the displacement: MHI is giving a value of 6,000 tons. A company representative explained that this is the "full load displacement" value, with all equipment onboard. Two propulsion systems are possible: propellers or waterjets.

The MHI representative (a naval architect) stressed that this future frigate is:
- Stealthy (applying MHI's radar and acoustic stealth technology),
- Smart (automated damage control system based on distributed sensors, ship ressource management and maneuver control)
- Scalable (modular compartment to accommodate the payload for greater mission requirements)

The goal of the programme is to come out with a vessel with similar or greater capabilities compared to the Akizuki-class of destroyers but on a smaller, smarter frigate design. MHI believes this design could match potential export customers, for this reason the Japanese company is showcasing its design at Sea Air Space 2018.


Japans MHI Showcasing 30DX Multi Mission Frigate Design 4The future Multi Mission frigate will be fitted with an integrated mast and two RSW on top of the bridge.


The MHI representative didn't want to provide details about the weapon systems, however based on the scale model we can assume that the vessel will be fitted with a BAE Systems 5 inch Mark 45 naval gun system, 16x Mk41 VLS cells for surface to air missiles, 8x anti-ship missiles (likely XSSM because of the shape of the cannisters), a Raytheon SeaRAM short range missile launcher on top of the helicopter hangar, torpedo and decoy launchers.

As far as sensors are concerned, the 30DX is fitted with a multi-functionr radar (in an integrated mast possibly from NEC), Electro Optic sensors, variable depth sonar and passive towed array as well as a hull mounted mine countermeasure sonar. 30DX will be able to deploy and recover UUV, USV, helicopter as well as sea mines.


Japans MHI Showcasing 30DX Multi Mission Frigate Design 5The future Multi Mission frigate / 30DX conceptual model at Sea Air Space 2018 on MHI booth.