Japan unveiled the first of its new class of diesel-electric submarines, the Taigei, in October 2020. The diesel-electric subs are part of Tokyo’s efforts to apply a sea denial strategy for boosting the country’s maritime security and as a show of deterrence against China’s growing assertiveness in the eastern Pacific region.
Taigei—meaning giant whale—was launched at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard in Kobe, and it is the first of the class that will succeed the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) current Soryu-class boats. The three-thousand-ton diesel-electric attack submarines were developed as the S9SS class equipped with lithium-ion batteries as its power source.
Japan is the first country to have operational submarines utilizing lithium-ion batteries requiring less maintenance and providing long endurance at high speeds. They have improved sonar and combat command systems, while it is fitted with improved acoustic absorbent materials and a floating floor structure to reduce noise.
The Taigei is armed with six 533-millimeter tube launchers for torpedoes and cruise missiles and is also outfitted with Torpedo Counter Measures, which can be used to launch decoys to evade enemy torpedoes and provide improved survivability.
Japan could introduce even more advanced submarines in the early 2030s, allowing its smaller submarine force to maintain its edge against the more extensive Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s submarine fleet.