Japan allows export for Weapons
Post the recent QUAD submit, Japan has done a very big announcement. Japanese government has allowed the export of fighter jets, missiles to India and other countries. Since 1976 Japan has banned the export of arms except few ToT to US and supplied its retired 36 Lockheed F-104J/DJ Starfighter aircraft to the Taiwanese Air Force. The present lift of arm export ban is not only for India but for 12 countries that include ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines western nations like US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Australia. The one thing common in all these countries is that most of them are either in direct or indirect conflict with China. This will definitely boost the Japanese defence sector and boost their economy but at the same time better equip the small ASEAN countries who do not have latest and sophisticated weapons to counter the Chinese Armed forces. We try to analyse the importance of this policy change from the perspective of Indian that how this can help to strengthen Indian military.
How can this benefit Indian Military?
At present India is self sufficient in missiles, it has already stepped towards becoming an exporter of missile with 1st export order of BrahMos to Philippines. Be it tactical or strategic missiles, air, sea, sub-sea or land launched missiles, India has all the technologies at its bay. In this segment India will not need help from Japan.
India has exceedingly done well in fighter jets development with Initial order of 40 Tejas Mark-I complete and production activity has started for Tejas Mark-1A. In parallel three more indigenous fighter jet program that includes Tejas MK2, AMCA & TEDBF are already moving ahead towards prototype development with much of their technologies to be used being developed in parallel. Here as well we won’t need Japanese help.
The area that India want to collaborate with Japan will be development of its submarine for the Project-75I. Under this program Indian Navy envision to develop 6 Diesel Attack submarines with AIP system. Citing the technical challenges of the project Russia and Germany has already withdrawn from the project. At the same time France who assisted India with the Kalvari class submarine design based on its Scorpene class submarine has also officially withdrawn from Project-75. This leaves only Spain and South Korea as an active participant for the tender and none of them have a proven Fuel Cell based AIP submarine. This is where India would need assistance from Japan.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
The Japanese Navy known as Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force or JMSDF is 2nd largest Navy after China with 22 submarines in service. The most lethal and latest submarine in its inventory is Taigei-class submarine. The first submarine of this class was commissioned on 9th March this year. The submarine is successor of Soryu class submarine which forms the back bone of Japanese Navy with total 12 boat of this class in service. Soryu is also the world’s 1st submarine to be powered by Lithium ion batteries. The combat capability of Soryu class is similar to that of nuclear submarines.
AIP & Lithium-Ion Battery
AIP or Air Independent propulsion is known to increase the endurance of submarine when they are pretty much idle or diving at slow speed with its small tickle charge. It however is not effective when the submarine is diving at higher speed because the battery drains at much faster rate than an AIP can charge it. This is where the Lithium Ion battery massively improves the endurance of the submarine. The Taigei-class submarine has both AIP and Lithium-ion batteries that takes the submarines endurance much ahead of the other submarines in the world. The use lithium-ion batteries in the submarine charges the complete battery in less than an hour and have almost double the electric storage capacity when compared with traditional lead-acid batteries. The Li-ion battery has further improved the speed and performance of the submarine.
The two main armament of the Taigei class submarine is the Type-18 torpedo and the “Harpoon” Block II anti-ship missile which can be launched from 6X533mm torpedo tubes.
The Type-18 torpedo is Japan’s latest model and successor to the Type 89 torpedo. It can identify the decoy released by the enemy and can adapt to various coastal areas with complex sound environments and shallow water with poor terrain conditions and other environments. Harpoon Block II is the most advanced ship-borne anti-ship missile from United States. It has improved anti-electronic warfare capabilities. It carries warhead of about 140 kg and has a range of about 248KM. It can be launched against both ship and land targets.
Taigei class submarine are also the quietest submarine. Japan has done extensive research into reducing fluid noise, or the sound generated by water passing around the submarine’s hull, and propulsion sound damping.
The new hull design makes the submarine detection very difficult by significantly reducing the reflection intensity of the active sonar.
A new type of bow conformable sonar array, the broadside sonar array and towed sonar array, and an advanced combat system make it capable of network-centric warfare.
Taigei has been designed with reduced electro-magnetic and acoustic features, and will be equipped with a new combat management system (CMS)
Can Japan equip India with Taigei Class Submarine?
India and Japan have a very sound relation and both countries have collaborated under various economic activities. Both the countries are member of QUAD and share a common threat as China in their Maritime interest. Both the nations have seen various combat training between their air force and navy. But the billion dollar question is that will Japan equip India with its most latest Taigei class submarine. To answer this we will go little back in history. Back in 2015, when India was evaluating the Project-75I, the then late DM Manohar Parrikar asked his counterpart, Gen Nakatani, during their March 30-31 meeting in Tokyo, to offer the Soryu class submarine. But the but the Japanese side remained “non committal”. But then the situation is much different than what has been before 7 years. China has become more aggressive and India and Japan was countering the PLA Navy’s threat via QUAD. It’s the right time that the leaders of our nation show the political will to bring this deal to the plate. There will be challenges as well because the Japanese submarines are much larger than what Indian Navy is operating. The Indian Navy will also have its own choice of weapons for integration and possibly want to go ahead with DRDO’s fuel cell based AIP than Japanese AIP based on Stirling engine. However, its important to understand that the Navy is way below its magic number of Diesel attack submarines and is need of a proven Li-ion and AIP technologies where only Japan can help.