Officials from the Japanese Defense Ministry are reportedly considering the option of sharing submarine technology developed for the country’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) with the Royal Australian Navy. While developed by a contractor, Japan not permitted to share military technology until 2011 following a relaxation of principles on weapons exports, however, until now, the country has not shared such information with any nation other than the U.S.
Sources from the Defense Ministry have said Australia sought Japan’s help in getting submarine propulsion technology, and now the Tokyo government is trying to decide on what information should be provided. Australia’s request came just after a May 2012 visit to the MSDF Kure Base in Hiroshima Prefecture, when a senior official was given the chance to inspect an advanced Soryu-class submarine. This type of military vessel uses an air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology, which allows it to stay submerged for longer periods without having to refill oxygen supplies by resurfacing. Japan, along with Germany and Sweden, are among the small number of countries with submarines that use AIP technology.
Because the contracts for development were made with foreign companies, the Defense Ministry must analyze what level of information can be shared in order to prevent any comebacks. The relaxation of weapon export rules, which Japan agreed to in 2011, includes allowances for joint development and production. The issue in this situation is that the submarine technology was provided on a one-way bases, not through mutual sharing. Australia is said to be looking to acquire 12 new submarines in order to replace six outdated vessel.[via Sina]