Tokyo hopes to improve air defense weapons and even develop its own hypersonic missile by 2030
Japan plans to redesign some of its existing surface-to-air missiles to intercept hypersonic weapons, Kyodo News reported on Monday, suggesting the move is part of a broader strategy to improve Tokyo’s capability. “counterattack capabilities” over the next decade.
The military hopes to complete upgrades to its Type-03 medium-range missile and put the new model into mass production by 2029, according to the outlet, which cited an unidentified name. “source familiar with matter.”
The redesign is part of an effort to improve the “comprehensive anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense”, and will reportedly be outlined in a revised National Security Strategy to be released before the end of the year, the source added.
Designed and produced by Mitsubishi, the Type-03 SAM platform entered service with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JFSDF) in 2003, and currently has an operational range of around 50 km (31 mi).
However, since hypersonic munitions travel at more than five times the speed of sound and fly along irregular trajectories, the Type-03 and similar air defense systems have difficulty tracking and neutralizing such weapons. The source told Kyodo that the Type-03 will be “improved to predict the flight path of hypersonic weapons and track them, as well as detect them by radar.” but added that it is not yet clear whether such upgrades will be enough to counter the new technology.
After a meeting between Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his US counterpart Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in September, the two sides announced they would work together on hypersonic weapons research, as Washington has yet to develop own missile.
Like the United States, it appears that Japan is already moving forward on the project, with Nikkei reporting last week that Tokyo hopes to field a hypersonic missile by 2030. The outlet noted that the upcoming National Security Strategy will include three main planks to strengthen power. from Japan. “deterrence” capabilities, including the acquisition of US-made Tomahawk cruise missiles and other “battle tested” hardware from Washington, upgrades to some of its own existing munitions, as well as the development of a new hypersonic weapon.
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