Asia Defense | Security | East Asia

Japan Places Follow-on Order for Joint Strike Missiles

The Japanese government has awarded Norway’s Kongsberg a follow-on contract to supply additional Joint Strike Missiles.

Franz-Stefan Gady
Japan Places Follow-on Order for Joint Strike Missiles
Credit: Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace

The Japanese government has awarded a $49 million follow-on contract to Norwegian defense contractor Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to provide an unspecified number of next-generation, long-range, precision-guided Joint Strike Missiles (JSMs) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the company announced on November 12.

“The international F-35 user community is showing great interest in the JSM. KONGSBERG is very proud to have been selected by Japan to provide the JSM for their F-35 fleet. Our relationship is growing even stronger with this follow-on contract,” Eirik Lie, President, the head of Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace, was quoted as saying in a press statement.

Neither Kongsberg nor the Japanese government provided details about the number of missiles to be supplied, or the delivery schedule.

Kongsberg signed a contract with the Japanese government for “the initial deliveries” of JSMs in March 2019. The 2019 Japanese defense budget allotted around $71 million for the procurement of JSMs.

The JSM, co-developed by U.S. defense firm Raytheon and Kongsberg, is a fifth-generation stand-off, long-range sea- and land-target cruise missile designed to fit inside the F-35’s weapons bay. Each F-35 can carry two JSMs internally.

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The JSM has been designed for medium-range anti-ship and land attack missions and can “take on high value, heavily defended targets,” according to Raytheon. “The long standoff range (distance from the aircraft to the target) ensures that the aircraft and pilots remain out of harm’s way.” The missile has a reported operational range of around 500 kilometers. As I reported previously:

Development of the JSM was completed in 2018 after a series of validation test firings. The missile program has now entered the “integration” phase. Initial operational capability is expected in 2021 with full-operational capability to be reached in 2025.

The JASDF has stood up its first operational F-35A fighter squadron in March of this year. Japan selected the F-35A as Japan’s next-generation fighter aircraft in December 2011 and placed an order for 42 aircraft.

In December 2018, the Japanese government approved an increase of Japan’s existing order of 42 to 147 F-35 aircraft divided up into 63 additional F-35As and 42 F-35Bs, the U.S. Marine Corps’ short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft.

Both the F-35A and B variants can be armed with the JSM.

The Japanese MoD is also in the process of procuring other long-range, air-launched missiles including the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and the AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).

The JSM can also be carried by Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft.