MELBOURNE, Australia – Japan has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, or MHI, to be the lead contractor to build a new class of multipurpose destroyers with construction expected to begin in 2018.

An Aug. 9 release from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, or ATLA, also named Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Company as the subcontractor for the project which seeks to build eight ships to enter service with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force by the next decade.

MHI’s design and proposal beat out competition from Mitsui and Japan Marine United Corporation for Phase 2 of ATLA’s evaluation, with MHI coming up tops for performance, balance and capability. However, ATLA had previously said in February that the losing bidders will still carry out major portions of the build to avoid shipyard closures and loss of industrial capacity.

According to the specifications released by ATLA, the new destroyers will be 130 meters long and displace 3,900 tons, and will be designed for a variety of missions including anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures, with the capability to operate helicopters, unmanned surface and underwater vehicles.

The ships will be armed with a 5-inch, 62-caliber gun, almost certainly to be the BAE Mk.45 Mod 4 weapon; an unknown number of Vertical Launch System cells; canister-launched anti-ship missiles and a SeaRAM system with a Raytheon/Diehl BGT Defence RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile for local air defense.

The primary multifunction radar and other primary sensors will be enclosed in an integrated mast and hull mounted sonar will be fitted for mine countermeasures operations, according to the MHI artwork that accompanied the ATLA release. The ships will also carry tactical datalinks, SATCOM for communications as well as towed array and variable depth sonar for its anti-submarine sensor suite.

ATLA also said that the ships will be powered by a Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbine and a pair of MAN 12V28/33D STC diesel engines in a Combined Diesel and Gas or CODAG arrangement, with the ships capable of making 30 knots. Each ship is expected to cost 50 billion yen or $456.7 million.

MHI had previously displayed a model of what it called the 30FF frigate at various defense and naval exhibitions, and had offered the design to Australia for its SEA 5000 Future Frigate although it was ultimately not considered for that program.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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