Four Kongō-class ships were completed: Kongō, Kirishima, Myōkō, and Chōkai. Each ship has a full load displacement of about 9,500 tons.
The Japanese Navy is the second largest force in the world in terms of the number of destroyers equipped with the most advanced Aegis combat system, they are also the only country outside the US to own SM-3 interceptor missile capable of shooting down intercontinental ballistic missiles. Kongo is Japan’s first Aegis destroyers and is the first of few ship classes outside the United States to have that capability.
The Kongō class was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI Corporation for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force between 1990 and 1998. Four ships were completed: Kongō, Kirishima, Myōkō, and Chōkai. Each ship has a full load displacement of about 9,500 tons, a length of 161 m, a beam of 21 m, and a draft of 6.2 m.
The destroyer is a modified version of the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke Class destroyer. The hull adopted shelter deck design as with preceding Japanese destroyers, but it was widened to support the superstructure with four PESA antennas just as Arleigh Burke class. Due to this widened hull, the outer panel is inclined to reduce the width of the waterline, which also has the effect of reducing radar cross section area.
Because they are built to different operational requirements than the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, such as for carrying extra commanding equipment, the Kongō-class ships’ internal arrangement is quite different from the original design on which they are based. Recognisable external features are the vertical mast and enlarged superstructure to carry sufficient headquarters equipment so that they could act as a flagship.
The propulsion systems are almost the same as those of the Arleigh Burke class, powered by four Ishikawajima-Harima LM2500 gas turbines giving them a top speed of 30 knots, range is 4,500 nautical miles, complement of 300 crew members.
The heart of the class is the Aegis Weapon System. The system version was Baseline 4 for name-ship through third ship, and Baseline 5 for fourth ships immediately after they were put into service; then all ships were updated to Baseline 5.3 with modernization. As surface-to-air missiles, The SM-2MR Block IIIA was initially used, and later the Block IIIB came into use. Since the mid-2000s, they have also been equipped with a missile defense capability with the primary intention of countering North Korean ballistic missiles, and now have an Aegis BMD 3.6 system installed to launch SM-3 Block IA and IB missiles.
The Mark 41 Vertical Launching System arrangement, similar to the Arleigh Burke class, consisted of 29 cells on the foredeck and 61 cells on the afterdeck. These cells contain not only RIM-162, SM-2, and SM-3, but also VL-ASROCs. In addition, they are equipped with HOS-302, one of the Japanese variant of the Mark 32 Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes, as anti-submarine weapons and Harpoon as antiship missiles. And as gunnery weapons, an Oto Melara 127 mm caliber gun and two Mark 15 20 mm CIWS gun mounts are installed.
Most of electronic devices outside of AWS are originated in Japan. For electronic warfare, this class is equipped with NOLQ-2, an elaborate system capable of both ES and EA. The OQS-102 sonar is equivalent to the U.S. SQS-53C. The aft deck has room for a SH-60J/K anti-submarine helicopter, but there is no hangar.
The Kongo-class Aegis destroyer is not only a warship class with the leading offensive and defensive power of the Japanese Navy but also in Asia. The presence of this type of missile defense destroyer gives Tokyo an “umbrella” of protection against ballistic missile threats.