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Japan making major switch in submarine propulsion systems


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Those watching for a possible future Australia-Japan submarine deal for the Soryu class at the ADF section might take an interest in this:

Defense News

Japan To Make Major Switch on Sub Propulsion
Lithium-ion Batteries Will Power Soryu-class Boats
Sep. 29, 2014 - 03:45AM  |  By PAUL KALLENDER-UMEZU

TOKYO — Japan has decided to power its new batch of Soryu-class submarines with Lithium-ion batteries instead of air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology — a move that could raise eyebrows after similar types batteries were faulted for fires aboard the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

However, experts brush aside those concerns and instead say this type of technological leap increases power and performance, while reducing maintenance. It also could make Japanese subs more marketable overseas.

Yasushi Kojima, a spokesman for the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), said the change would affect the next four remaining Soryu-class submarines in Japan’s 10-boat class.

Senior officials from Australia, which struck a landmark technology agreement with Japan in June, told Defense News that they are aware of the switch to the Li-ion batteries and that they are still interested in pursuing Japanese sub-building technology, perhaps even purchasing Soryu-class subs outright.

The existing Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines (16SS) use AIP technology based on Kockums Stirling engines license-built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, allowing them to stay submerged for long periods. The engines power Sweden’s smaller Gotland-class submarines for up to two weeks at 5 knots.