Naval Warfare

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Deploys Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile Unit in Okinawa

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Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Deploys Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile Unit in Okinawa

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Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Deploys Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile Unit in Okinawa
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Deploys Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile Unit in Okinawa

Japan has deployed the ‘7th Surface-to-Ship Missile Regiment’ at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF)’s Katsuren camp in Uruma city, Okinawa Prefecture. This deployment, announced by the Japanese Ministry of Defense in late March, marks the first deployment of such a unit in Okinawa. Equipped with the Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile (SSM), the unit stands poised to safeguard Japan’s southwestern region. The unit’s primary objective is to thwart any potential sea-borne invasion of remote islands and neutralize invading forces. The deployment extends beyond Okinawa, as the unit will oversee other missile units stationed on Miyako-jima and Ishigakijima islands in Okinawa, as well as on Amami ?shima island in Kagoshima Prefecture.

This coordinated effort underscores Japan’s commitment to enhancing its defensive capabilities in the face of escalating regional tensions. The decision to deploy Type 12 SSM batteries and approximately 180 troops to Okinawa Island was first made by the Ministry of Defense in September 2021. This move is part of Japan’s broader strategy to bolster defenses in response to China’s increasing assertiveness in the region. By fortifying its coastal defenses with the deployment of this anti-ship missile unit, Japan sends a clear message about its commitment to safeguarding its territorial integrity and sovereignty. This strategic deployment underscores the nation’s proactive stance in ensuring regional stability amidst evolving geopolitical challenges.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Type 12 Truck-mounted Surface-to-ship Missile (SSM)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Type 12 Truck-mounted Surface-to-ship Missile (SSM), which is currently being upgraded to become the first Japan-made long-range cruise missile. (Photo by JSGDF)

The Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile (SSM) 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 ship-launched derivative of Type 12, designated as Type 17 (SSM-2) missile has been put into service and it is to start deploying from Maya-class destroyer.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense approved the development of an improved version of the Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile on December 18, 2020 by the Cabinet. According to Japanese newspapers, the range will be extended from 200 km to 900 km, with a future target of 1,500 km. It will have a stealthy shape to reduce Radar Cross Section (RCS), as well as high mobility to prevent interception from the enemy. It can attack not only naval vessels but also ground targets. The Ministry of Defense intends to launch the improved Type 12 SSM not only from the ground, but also from naval vessels and aircraft. Development of the improved Type 12 ground-launched anti-ship missile is expected to finish by fiscal year 2025.

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Deploys Type 12 Surface-to-Ship Missile Unit in Okinawa
Deputy Defense Minister Oniki attended the formation ceremony for the 7th Surface-to-Ship Missile Regiment at the Katsuren Garrison of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces. (Photo by JSGDF)

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