On Saturday, November 19, the Maya-class destroyers of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), JS Maya (179) and JS Haguro (180), conducted two test firings of SM-3 Block missiles. III.

As part of the testing, the JS Maya fired an advanced BMD interceptor missile built jointly by the United States and Japan, the SM-3 Block IIA.

The sister ship JS Haguro also fired another test fire, one of the Block IIB variants of the missile, on the same day, November 19.

The US Navy and US Missile Defense Agency supported both tests conducted in Hawaii. The missile was directed at a US Navy range on Kauai.

The SM-3 Block IIA was launched from Japanese naval vessels for the first time. The Japan Self-Defense Force has announced that the test fire was a success and has increased Japan’s BMD capabilities.

The destroyers also did a mock launch to ensure the new features worked.

About the Maya-class destroyers

JS Maya class destroyer
JS Maya

This new project to improve Aegis destroyers started in 2015 and was at first called 27DDG. The destroyers in the new class are 170 meters long and weigh 8,200 tons.

It operates with a crew of 310 sailors and is powered by a Combined Gas Turbine Electricity (COGLAG) propulsion system.

This new class of destroyers has two units named after Japanese mountains: JS Maya (DDG-179), laid down in April 2017, was launched on July 30, 2018, and commissioned on March 19, 2019. Her sister ship, JS Haguro (DDG-180), was launched on July 17, 2019, and commissioned in March 2021.

JS Haguro
JS Haguro

Each vessel costs around $1.5 billion, and both were built at the Japan Marine United (JMU) shipyard in Isogo Ward in Yokohama.

Maya class destroyers are the first JMSDF Aegis destroyers with BMD capabilities. It’s also the first AEGIS ship to have CEC (cooperative engagement capability).

The ship’s CEC system lets it receive target data from other assets, such as AEGIS destroyers from the United States Navy and the Royal Australian Navy or E-2D AEW&C aircraft from the United States and Japan.

The first of four ordered E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft was delivered to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force on March 29.

Maya-class destroyers are equipped with the AEGIS Baseline J7 battle system, the AN/SPY-1D(V) passive electronically scanned radar, and the AN/SPQ-9B surface search radar.

It can fire the latest version of the missile Raytheon SM-3 ballistic defense machine. The US and Japan developed the SM-3 Block IIA, which has larger rocket engines and a larger kinetic warhead. Maya’s 96 VLS Mk41 cells (64 cells forward and 32 cells aft).

Other Maya class weapon systems are:

  • SM-6 aka RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERM)
  • SM-2MR Block IIIB surface-to-air missiles
  • Type 07 vertical launch anti-submarine rockets
  • Type 90/17 anti-ship missiles
  • 127mm Mk 45 Mod 4 main gun
  • 2x Phalanx CIWS
  • 2x HOS-302 triple torpedo tubes (for Mk-46 or Type 73 torpedoes)

The SM-6 is a missile that can attack both air and ground targets. Japanese sources say that buying the SM-6 was supposed to be part of Japan’s defense budget for the fiscal year 2019 but was put off because the US didn’t have enough SM-6 features.

Japan will become the first export customer for this type of missile. SM-6, SM-3, and SM-2 are designed and produced by Raytheon.

As recently reported, the Maya-class destroyers will feature a cooperation table developed by the Japanese company Fujitsu. This table will be used in the CIC for mission planning, among other tasks.

As for electronic warfare, the Maya class is equipped with NOLQ-2C ESM (Electronic Support Measures) launchers and Mk.137 decoys. The Maya class is not equipped with any ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) system.

For anti-submarine warfare, the Maya class is equipped with AN/SQS-53C bow sonar and a multifunction tow sonar (MFTA) at the stern.

Last but not least, the Maya class is typically deployed with an SH-60K maritime helicopter.