In a bid to bolster its defense capabilities, the Japanese Ministry of Defense is reportedly evaluating the possibility of equipping its Air Self-Defense Force C-2 transport planes with long-range missiles. Government sources revealed on Sunday that the move aims to bolster the nation’s standoff defense capabilities and enable operations targeting enemy bases, including missile launch sites, in counterstrike scenarios. The ministry is contemplating the use of a specialized type of missile with a unique airborne ignition mechanism. Unlike traditional missile systems, this technology would allow the missile’s engine to ignite after it is dropped mid-flight, minimizing the need for extensive modifications to the aircraft. The United States has been actively developing similar technology, providing a promising framework for Japan’s ambitions.
With ¥3.6 billion allocated in the fiscal 2023 budget for associated expenses, the ministry is gearing up for a comprehensive development phase, expected to commence after technical research is conducted throughout fiscal year 2024. It’s important to note that the ministry’s strategy does not involve creating new missiles specifically for the C-2 aircraft. The aircraft-launched variant of the Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missile, designed with a remarkable 1,000-kilometer range, is currently in the developmental pipeline. The proposed utilization of the C-2 aircraft brings distinct advantages to the table. These transport planes possess a higher missile carrying capacity compared to most fighter jets, along with extended airborne endurance. The incorporation of such technology aligns with the government’s Defense Buildup Program.
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 Japanese Ministry of Defense intends to launch the improved Type 12 SSM not only from the ground, but also from naval vessels and aircraft.
The Kawasaki C-2 is a mid-size, twin-turbofan engine, long range, high speed military transport aircraft developed and manufactured by Kawasaki Aerospace Company. In June 2016, the C-2 formally entered service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The Kawasaki C-2 is a long range twin-engine transport aircraft. In comparison with the older C-1 that it replaces, the C-2 can carry payloads up to four times heavier, such as MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries and Mitsubishi H-60 helicopters, and possesses six times the range. The C-2 is being developed to meet the following requirements of the Ministry of Defense: a minimum payload of 26 tonnes, 120 metric ton take-off weight, ability to takeoff/land on short runways, a maximum payload of 37,600 kg whilst taking off from a 2,300 m Take-off Field Length at a 141 tonnes (310,851 lb 155.42 short ton) take-off weight, ability to fly international airroutes; JDA ruled out C-17 as a candidate by its lower cruising speed.