Tokyo to equip F-2 jets with new air-to-ship missiles

TOKYO • The government plans to equip the Japan Air Self-Defence Force's (JASDF) F-2 fighters with a new air-to-ship missile from next fiscal year, the Yomiuri Shimbun has learnt.

It will allocate several hundred millions of yen in a budgetary request for fiscal year 2018 to mass produce the missile, which is currently under development, sources said. The new missile will be the first supersonic air-to-ship type to be made in the country and is characterised as being difficult to intercept.

Japan is hastening efforts to improve the performance of its defence equipment to counter China, which is building up its maritime capacity.

Japan's new missile will travel significantly faster, with a speed of around Mach 3 - on a par with the most advanced missiles of the same variety overseas.

The time required to hit a target would be significantly reduced.

The new missile can also fly at a low altitude, close to the water surface to evade radar detection.

The new missile will be the first supersonic air-to-ship type to be made in the country and is characterised as being difficult to intercept. Japan is hastening efforts to improve the performance of its defence equipment to counter China, which is building up its maritime capacity.

The Defence Ministry will test-fire the new missile against a retired destroyer.

If it proves to have high performance, the ministry will gradually equip F-2 fighter jets deployed to units in western Japan with the missile.

The F-2 jet, developed jointly by Japan and the United States, is known for its high capability to attack ships.

It was deployed from the year 2000, and the JASDF has now introduced about 90 units.

The jet is scheduled to be used as the JASDF's main fighter aircraft until around the 2030s.

If it is equipped with the new missile, its attack capability is expected to be boosted.

The ministry is also considering equipping the F-35 - the world's most advanced stealth fighter, scheduled to be deployed to the JASDF from the end of this fiscal year - with the highly advanced Joint Strike Missile.

It is an air-to-surface and air-to-ship missile being developed mainly by Norway.

THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Tokyo to equip F-2 jets with new air-to-ship missiles'. Print Edition | Subscribe