The Chinese military is increasing its presence in the seas east of the island chain and around Taiwan that give way to the Pacific Ocean. In response, Japan deployed troops and announced it intends to position surface-to-air missiles in the region as well. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) officially opens a new base with missile units this week on Ishigaki in the nation’s southern island chain. The Nansei Islands stretch from Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands, to within 70 miles of Taiwan. Ishigaki is about 150 miles east of Taiwan. The new facility will enhance Japan’s “deterrence power” in the southern island chain.
The Stars and Stripes reported that Camp Ishigaki will begin operations on Thursday, with an opening ceremony April 2. Approximately 570 personnel from security, surface-to-air and surface-to-ship guided-missile units will be stationed at the base. The missile units will be moved south from Ground Self-Defense Force camps in Nagasaki and Kumamoto prefectures. They will be armed with Type-12 surface-to-ship guided missiles and Type-03 surface-to-air guided missiles, the ministry said. Type-12 missiles will be stored in the ammunition facilities on the base.
The Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile is a truck-mounted anti-ship missile developed by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 2012. It is an upgrade of the Type 88 Surface-to-Ship Missile. The Type 12 features INS with mid-course GPS guidance and better precision due to enhanced Terrain Contour Matching and target discrimination capabilities. The weapon is networked, where initial and mid-course targeting can be provided by other platforms, and also boasts shorter reload times, reduced lifecycle costs, and a range of 124 mi (108 nmi; 200 km). The missile shares the same Ka-band Active Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) radar seeker with Japanese BVRAAM missile, AAM-4B.
The Type 03 Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM-4 or Chu-Samu) is a Japanese developed surface-to-air missile system currently in service with the JGSDF. The SAM’s vehicle chassis is based on the Kato Works Ltd/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries NK series heavy crane truck. It uses a state-of-the-art active electronically scanned array radar. The Chu-SAM air defense system is based on 8×8 cross country unarmored trucks, and includes a command center, radar unit, launcher, and transloader, with each unit equipped with six missiles that travel at Mach 2.5. The system can track up to 100 targets simultaneously and target 12 at the same time, engaging fighter jets, helicopters, and cruise missiles.