With China’s maritime expansion and other factors in mind, Japan intends to promote a family of missiles that can be carried by ships and fighter jets, and enhance its standoff defense capabilities with the capacity to launch missiles from outside an enemy’s threat range. Japan’s Ministry of Defense is considering the introduction of a new type of long-range missile that could be fired from vessels and fighter jets, with development beginning as early as fiscal 2022. The new missile would be based on the first domestically made long-range missile Japan is currently developing as a modified version of the Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile.
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 procurement of standoff defense capabilities was explicitly mentioned for the first time in the government’s 2018 National Defense Program Guidelines. In the fiscal 2021 budget, $306 million was allocated for developing a long-range standoff missile based on the Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile. Development of that missile started this fiscal year, and the system is set to be introduced in fiscal 2026 or later. The government envisages trying out prototypes and conducting operational suitability tests for the long-range missiles for vessels and for fighter jets in about five years and seven years, respectively
Missiles for ships will require specialized radars — and the revamping of launchpads attached to the vessels. The F-2 fighter of the Air Self-Defense Force is being considered as the jet that will be equipped with the new missiles. Officials are considering the necessary renovations to the body of the fighter jet and to a system to find its target via radar and launch missiles. Such capabilities could be converted into the capacity to attack enemy military bases to deter ballistic missile attacks, and if they were not limited to launchpads on land. It would mean that Japan would have moved up a level in its capability of attacking enemy bases.