Japan’s advanced Soryu-class diesel-electric submarine program crossed an important milestone on Thursday. The country has launched JS Oryu, the first submarine in the class to use long-endurance lithium-ion batteries, accomplishing a long-sought capability designed to give the submarines an extra acoustic edge during sensitive operations and combat operations, Nikkei Asian Review reports.
The addition of the capability also speaks to the innovative capability of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation. The two Japanese firms have worked to promote the Soryu overseas since Japan’s lifting of its decades-long self-imposed ban on arms exports in 2014. In 2016, Japan’s Soryu offering was edged out by French submarine maker DCNS’ Shortfin Barracuda-class in Australia’s Collins-class replacement program.
JS Oryu was launched on Thursday in Kobe, ahead of its planned delivery to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2020. The 84 meter, 2,950 ton vessel is the first of the Soryu-class to use lithium-ion batteries on board. According to open source estimates, the vessel can reach speeds of 20 knots.