The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Asahi class destroyer JS Shiranui fired a RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM missile during the exercise Pacific Vanguard. According to information published by the Japanese MoD on July 11, Pacific Vanguard is a key exercise where navies from four Indo-Pacific countries sharpen skills in maritime, anti-submarine, air warfare operations, live-fire missile events, and advanced maneuvers. The destroyer JS Shiranui (DD 120) and multiple aircraft are representing Japan. The Exercise Control (EXCON) personnel, integrating into the watch floor, are among the personnel representing Australia. The destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH 976) is representing the Republic of Korea. The guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) and aircraft supporting from Commander, Task Force 72 are among the units representing the United States.
JS Shiranui (DD-120) is the second ship of the Asahi-class destroyer of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. Her namesake came from the optical phenomenon called Shiranui, or “Phosphorescent Light”. She was laid down on 20 May 2016 and launched on 12 October 2017. Commissioned on 27 February 2019 with the hull number DD-120. TThe Asahi class is based on the existing Akizuki-class destroyer to reduce acquisition cost and allow future development and growth. Unlike the Akizuki class (which focuses on anti-aircraft warfare) the Asahi class focuses on anti-submarine warfare. The two major characteristics of this destroyer is its bigger emphasis on anti-submarine warfare and the adoption of the COGLAG (combined gas turbine electric and gas turbine) propulsion system. A second destroyer was procured a year later.
The Asahi class of destroyers stands tall as a formidable force in naval warfare, boasting an impressive array of armament. At the forefront of its offensive capabilities is the Mk. 45 Mod 4 127 mm (5 in)/62 gun, a versatile weapon that delivers accurate and powerful blows against enemy targets. Complementing this main gun are eight quad canisters housing the Type 90 Anti-ship missiles. To defend against incoming threats, the Asahi class is equipped with two 20 mm Phalanx Block1B CIWS systems. The presence of two HOS-303 triple 324 mm (12.8 in) torpedo tubes further enhances the destroyer’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Furthermore, its 32-cell Mk. 41 Vertical launching system enables the deployment of RIM-162 ESSM SAMs and RUM-139 VL-ASROC missiles, ensuring long-range air defense and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
The RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) is a development of the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft. ESSM is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. ESSM also has the ability to be “quad-packed” in the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System, allowing up to four ESSMs to be carried in a single cell. Compared to the Sea Sparrow, ESSM has a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased range and agility, as well as upgraded aerodynamics using strakes and skid-to-turn. The Mark 41 Vertical Launching System is the primary launch system for the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile. The Mk 41 is deployed aboard destroyers and frigates, primarily of the United States and allied nations. The ESSM is quadpacked within a Mk 41 cell allowing a significantly increased missile load over SM-2.