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Japan in hot pursuit of an underwater warfare edge

Japan aims to bolster its underwater warfare capabilities around the strategic Nansei Islands vis-a-vis China through the acquisition of new unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and partnering with Australia for such technologies.

This month, the Asian Military Review reported that the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) plans to enhance its ocean observation capabilities with new UUVs and long-range underwater acoustic communication systems.

The report mentions that the JMSDF has signed contracts for Type I and Type II underwater gliders to perform oceanographic surveys on water temperature, salinity and currents.

It also states that the JMSDF has contracted with local electronics company NEC to develop the Long Distance Underwater Acoustic Communication Module for UUV control, positional awareness and underwater ship communication.

Asian Military Review says that performance tests of the system will start in 2025. NEC demonstrated stable two-way, long-distance communication using an experimental UUV equipped with an early example of the acoustic communication module.

The JMSDF uses the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries OZZ-5 UUV, fitted with a dual-imaging sonar suite, to detect buried objects at low frequencies and perform high-resolution scans of exposed objects on the seabed.

Alongside the OZZ-5 UUV, the Asia Military Review report says the JMSDF also operates the Hydroid REMUS 600 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) for use in Mine Countermeasures (MCM) operations.

Meanwhile, Janes reported last month that Japan and Australia have signed a bilateral agreement to co-develop robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) for undersea warfare. Janes says the deal aims to enhance the two nations’ underwater communication