Japan Creates New Hypersonic Missiles

According to a press release from the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD), Japan has created new hypersonic missiles to deter Chinese military aggression against what is known as the First Island Chain.

Japanese MoD

Japan has kicked off a project to field a new coastal, anti-ship cruise missile as part of the country’s Defense Buildup Program. The “new SSM [surface-to-ship missile]” represents one of many new missile projects, including hypersonic missiles, recently announced by Japan’s Ministry of Defense specifically for “island defense.” It’s likely the new missile will be used on Japan’s southern islands, including around the Senkakus, to deter Chinese military aggression against what is known as the First Island Chain.

According to a press release from the Japanese MoD dated June 6, the contract for the new cruise missile was awarded to Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) on June 2. As the press release notes, the research and development period for the missile, centered on “elemental technologies for new anti-ship guided missiles for island defense,” stretches from 2023 through 2027. Local Japanese media reports on the new cruise missile – which the country has been researching for several years – suggest it will have a range of 2,000 kilometers (just over 1,242 miles). While the press release does not stipulate the value of the contract, Japan’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget had earmarked $257 million for research on a new multi-mission anti-ship missile, leading to a prototype featuring a low radar cross-section (stealthy).

As part of the press release, the Japanese MoD also provided the first cutaway illustration of the missile titled “modularization study.” The illustration reveals two separate sensors within the missile’s nose as well as the location of a “modular warhead.” The artwork also shows the air-breathing missile with a pair of pop-out wings and with a set of four tail fins/stabilizers behind.

Of course, it should be noted that KHI has been developing a prototype for a new long-range cruise missile for several years, in accordance with Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) specifications. A scale model of the company’s “island defense anti-ship missile” was unveiled in March at the DSEI Japan 2023 exhibition.

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KHI’s prototype missile certainly seems to match the general characteristics of the “new SSM.” Quoting KHI officials, Naval News reports that KHI’s “island defense anti-ship missile” is designed for high maneuverability over long ranges. It will be able to be employed from warships, aircraft, and land-based launchers, and could be modified to enable launch from submarines. In terms of its engine, KHI’s missile will be fitted with the KJ300, a new turbofan engine currently under development by the company.

The National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, stated that Iran and Putin are planning to build a military drone factory inside Russia.

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