The Diplomat has the story. The possibility is certainly intriguing. One can assume rather confidently that Japanese naval engineers are somewhat less enamored of “revolutionary”, “transformational”, and “game-changing” as we seem to be here at NAVSEA. Japanese ship designs, particularly in smaller units, have always been excellent. Fast, sturdy, powerful units for their size.
…analysts contend that the trimaran would likely be a lighter variant of the U.S. Navy’s 3,000-tonne littoral combat ship (LCS), a platform designed primarily for missions in shallow coastal waters.
According to reports in Japanese media, the high-speed J-LCS would give the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) the ability to quickly intervene during incursions by Chinese vessels near the Senkaku/Diaoyu islets and other contested areas of the East China Sea. Chinese analysts speculate that the J-LCS could be intended as a counter to the PLA Navy’s (PLAN) Type 056 corvettes and Type 022 fast-attack boats, two types of vessels that could be deployed to the region should relations continue to deteriorate. Furthermore, early reports indicate that the slightly enlarged hull of the 1,000-tonne-plus vessels could accommodate SH-60K anti-submarine helicopters and MCH-101 airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) helicopters.
If Chinese analysts are correct, and I hope they are, it is possible we will see a smaller, better-armed, more lethal, less fragile, and significantly less expensive warship which will be suitable for combat in the littorals. Our lack of “low-end” capability to handle missions ill-suited for AEGIS cruisers and destroyers, such as mixing it up with ASCM-armed frigates and fast-attack craft, is nothing short of alarming. It would be of benefit to the US Navy to scrutinize the results of such a design, which at first blush sounds much closer to the “Streetfighter” concept than either current LCS design, and that of the Cyclone-class Patrol Cutters.
It sure as hell would be an improvement over current designs. Especially if the “joint” US-Japanese LCS actually shipped the weapons systems and capabilities required and didn’t stake success on as-yet undeveloped “modules” whose feasibility has come increasingly into question.