Japan Ministry of Defense Unveils ASM-3 Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile
Japan Ministry of Defense Unveils ASM-3 Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile

Japan Ministry of Defense Unveils ASM-3 Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile

The ASM-3 is an supersonic anti-ship missile being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace the ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles. The major launch platform is the Mitsubishi F-2. In November 2015, the Ministry of Defense (Japan) announced it would conduct a live-fire experiment of the XASM-3 in 2016, targeting the decommissioned ship JDS Shirane. Planned Initial Operational Capability was 2016. In February 2017, an F-2 carried out a jettison test of the missile as a precursor to a live firing. Research and development costs totalled 39 billion yen, approximately $367 million. Mass production was planned to begin in 2018 but stopped due to the further upgrade program has been planned.

The ASM-3 supersonic anti-ship missile lacked range, 100-mile incarnation. Rather than field the missile in its current Japan Ministry of Defense sent the weapon back to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to make the missile fly twice as far without making it much bigger. For all this capability, the ASM-3 still fits under the wing of an F-2 fighter, its primary carrier. Compatibility with the ASM-3 will be a requirement for Japan’s new F-3 stealth fighter. For all this capability, the ASM-3 still fits under the wing of an F-2 fighter, its primary carrier. Compatibility with the ASM-3 will be a requirement for Japan’s new F-3 stealth fighter.

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Japan Ministry of Defense Unveils ASM-3 Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile
Japan Ministry of Defense Unveils ASM-3 Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile

The ASM-3 flies at a top speed of Mach 3 and a maximum range of 200 km, making it very difficult to intercept. But reaching that speed requires a novel propulsion system. A solid-fuel rocket booster fires first, accelerating the missile to high supersonic speed. The Ministry of Defense has already completed development of the ASM-3 but is still developing a new advanced mission computer (AMC) for the F-2, meaning the missile cannot yet be integrated with the platform that will carry it. It is apparent that this move is to respond to China’s growing naval activity in the East China Sea, which includes the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. The islands are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.

Japan Ministry of Defense is also planning on employing the ramjet propulsion system and inertial/composite guidance technology of the ASM-3 to design a land-based, truck mounted variant, as well as a ship-based version with longer range. The missile can take either a direct course of travel when launched low near the edge of the targeted vessel’s radar range, or instead it may take a “pop-up” profile, climbing high from a low angle of launch or instead staying at an already high altitude from an elevated attack approach. The F-2 to fly under the radar, while the “pop-up” profile may put the F-2 within radar detection range, but beyond the scope of the targeted ship’s SAMs. The missile will be used by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

Japan Ministry of Defense Unveils ASM-3 Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile
Japanese defense undersecretary Tomohiro Yamamoto poses in front of an F-2 fighter during a visit to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Nagoya plant.
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