Japan hopes to get a new anti-ship cruise missile by 2027

The Japanese MoD has commissioned Kawasaki Heavy Industries to design and build a new anti-ship cruise missile for an undisclosed amount.
Christopher McFadden
Image of the proposed new KHI cruise missile.

Global Business Press/Twitter  

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (DoD) has announced a new contract with Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) to develop and build a new coastal, anti-ship cruise missile system. The new missiles will form part of the country's "Defense Buildup Program" to provide vital "island defense" for Japan.

The new surface-to-ship missile (SSM) will also be one of many new missile projects, including hypersonic missiles being developed to protect Japan's southern islands, including around the Senkakus. This is most likely an attempt to deter Chinese military aggression against what is known as the "First Island Chain."

The announcement explained that on June 2, the Japanese Ministry of Defense awarded Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) a contract to develop a new cruise missile.

The new missile will hopefully be finished by 2027

The missile, focused on anti-ship technology for island defense, will undergo research and development from 2023 to 2027. While no official statistics have been announced, local Japanese media reports report that the missile will range around 1,242 miles (2,000 kilometers). The contract's value is also not publicly disclosed; Japan's Fiscal Year 2023 budget allocated $257 million to develop a new multi-mission anti-ship missile with a "stealthy" design.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense recently released a press statement that included an illustration of their new missile, called the "modularization study." This illustration highlights two sensors in the missile's nose and a "modular warhead." The missile features wings and four tail fins/stabilizers and can be used for warships, aircraft, and land-based launchers. It may even be modified to launch from submarines. KHI is developing a new turbofan engine, the KJ300, to power the missile.

The missile KHI is developing will also utilize an inertial navigating system (INS) and a global positioning system (GPS) during its cruise phase. It will also use an infrared (IR) and a radio frequency (RF) seeker for terminal guidance. By pairing these seekers, the missile will become less susceptible to countermeasures such as decoys and jamming (IR and RF), thus increasing its probability of success.

The "island defense anti-ship missile" measures between 20 and 33 feet (6 to 10 meters) in length and should achieve a subsonic speed of Mach 0.8. KHI has designed this missile to be modular, allowing for different payload configurations for various mission sets. This includes land attacks, electronic warfare, and even reconnaissance configurations.

Japan is committed to spending trillions of yen on similar defensive systems

It appears that Tokyo deems it necessary to allocate resources towards acquiring weapons, like cruise missiles, to deter any potential military aggression from China, mainly through its expanding naval capabilities.

In addition, Japan has committed to a substantial defense budget for Fiscal Year 2023, amounting to approximately 7 trillion yen (over $50 billion), in response to escalating tensions with neighboring countries like North Korea and China. It's worth noting that Japan has also been expanding its military capabilities in other significant areas, such as developing hypersonic missiles and aircraft carriers.

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