The Japan Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF) fleet of Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighter jets will be fitted with a new domestically produced supersonic anti-ship missile currently under development, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported this month.
The new missile, designated XASM-3, is slated to be introduced into service with the JASDF next fiscal year following the successful completion of operational trials including conducting a live-fire exercise targeting a decommissioned Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer.
According to Navy Recognition, the JASDF conducted a first missile jettison test–used to validate the aerodynamic separation models of the missile—in March 2017. The Japanese Ministry of Defense originally planned to test fire the missile in 2016 as it planned for the XASM-3’s initial operational capability for that year, but no such test occurred apparently.
The Japanese MoD’s 2018 budget request contains several hundred millions of Yen to start mass producing the missile next year. “The introduction of the new missile is aimed at keeping the Chinese Navy — which has been taking high-handed action in the East China Sea and other places — in check,” the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.
The XASM-3 is reportedly capable of traveling speeds of up to Mach 3 and has an estimated range of over 150 kilometers. The sea-skimming missile is capable of flying close to sea level to reduce the probability of detection and interception and is purportedly fitted with an inertial/GPS navigation system while switching over to an active or passive seeker in the terminal phase of its flight.
The JASDF currently operates a fleet of around 90 Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighter aircraft, which first entered service in 2007. Each aircraft will be capable of carrying up to two XASM-3 missiles. The new missile will replace the older domestically produced Type 80 and Type 93 air-to-ship missiles capable of reaching near supersonic speed.
The JASDF is also reportedly considering arming its burgeoning force of 42 F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighter jets with the next-generation, long-range, precision-guided Joint Strike Missile (JSM). The new missile is slated to become fully operational by 2025 with initial operational capability expected in 2021.
Furthermore, Japan is in the process of developing a new land-based anti-ship missile to reinforce the defenses of remote Japanese-controlled islets in the East China Sea. The new missile will have an approximate range of 300 kilometers use solid fuel, and is expected to be deployed by 2023.
“The new missile will supplement the Type 12 subsonic anti-ship missile, an upgraded variant of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Type 88 surface-to-ship missile with a reported range of 200 kilometers (124 miles), currently in service with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF),” I explained last year.