Japan is developing a new air-launched anti-ship missile (ASM) designed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA).
The ATLA spokesperson confirmed the missile development to Jane’s on February 28. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was awarded a contract to develop the weapon system and ATLA has allocated around $85 million from fiscal years 2017 to 2021 research and development work, according to Jane’s.
The missile is thought to be an improved variant of the Type-12 ground-launched ASM currently in service with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). The Type-12 ASM is an upgraded variant of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Type 88 surface-to-ship missile with a reported range of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and has been in service since 2015.
The range of the new ASM is expected to be extended to up to 400 kilometers.
According to Japanese media reports, a P-1 maritime patrol aircraft equipped with four upgraded Type-12 missiles conducted its first test flight from the Atsugi Naval Air Facility on February 10, 2020. The P-1 will reportedly be capable of carrying up to eight new missiles replacing Type 91 ASMs that currently arm the JMSDF’s fleet of P-1s and P-3C Orions.
Testing of the new ASM is slated to continue until 2022.
Earlier this month, the MoD stated that it will procure the Lockheed Martin AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) and the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) for the JASDF’s F-15J Eagle multirole fighter aircraft fleet.
The LRASM is a next-generation, precision-guided anti-ship missile with standoff capabilities and a derivative of the JASSM-ER. It is has an estimated range of more than 320 kilometers.
The JASDF is also in the process of arming its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters with the next-generation, long-range, precision-guided Joint Strike Missile (JSM).
Japan also completed development of its first domestically designed supersonic anti-ship missile, designated XASM-3, in 2019. The XASM-3 has been designed to be carried by JASDF F-2 multirole fighter jet, a Mitsubishi license-produced variant of Lockheed Martin’s F-16. Development of the missile began in 2003.
“Each aircraft will be capable of carrying up to two XASM-3 missiles,” I noted in July 2017. “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 XASM-2 is powered by a ramjet engine and can reportedly reach top speeds of up to Mach 3. It reportedly has an operational range of around 150 kilometers.