The Japan Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA) confirmed that Japan is developing a new air-launched anti-ship missile (ASM) designed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was awarded a contract to develop the weapon system and ATLA has allocated around $85 million from fiscal years 2017 to 2021 research and development work, according to Jane’s.
The missile is thought to be an improved variant of the Type-12 ground-launched ASM currently in service with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). The Type-12 ASM is an upgraded variant of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Type 88 surface-to-ship missile with a reported range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and has been in service since 2015. The range of the new ASM is expected to be extended to up to 400 kilometers. Testing of the new ASM is slated to continue until 2022.
The P-1 maritime patrol aircraft equipped with four upgraded Type-12 missiles conducted its first test flight from the Atsugi Naval Air Facility on February 10, 2020. The P-1 will reportedly be capable of carrying up to eight new missiles replacing Type 91 ASMs that currently arm the JMSDF’s fleet of P-1s and P-3C Orions. The Kawasaki P-1 is a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft developed and manufactured by Kawasaki Aerospace Company. Unlike many maritime patrol aircraft, which are typically conversions of civilian designs, the P-1 is a purpose-built maritime aircraft with no civil counterpart and was designed from the onset for the role.