Japan awards Mitsubishi to design 2 hypersonic, anti-ship missiles by 2030

After having maintained a defense posture based on the strict sufficiency of means and a defense effort below the threshold of 1% of GDP throughout the Cold War and beyond, Japan has, since the middle of the previous decade, undertaken to modernize and strengthen its military capabilities significantly, in particular by acquiring means hitherto considered incompatible with the Japanese constitution, such as the Izumo-class helicopter carrier destroyers transformed into aircraft carriers capable of using military aircraft F-35B combat capability lost by the Japanese Navy since 1945.

Since 2021 and the publication of the new White Paper on Defense identifying China, but also Russia as threats, a status hitherto reserved for North Korea, and advocating Japanese support for American forces in the context of the Taiwan crisis, Tokyo has also undertaken to considerably increase its investments in the development of disruptive military systems, which these include drones, directed energy weapons, railguns and also hypersonic weapons.

This is how, three years ago, the Japanese authorities announced the launch of two hypersonic missile programs, one with an anti-ship vocation based on a semi-ballistic trajectory, the other employing a hypersonic glider to strike enemy land targets.

If the development of the anti-ship missile does not pose challenges outside the technological field, the development of the hypersonic system of strike towards the ground required a certain interpretation of the Japanese constitution which prohibits so-called offensive weapons, as well as the concept of preventive strikes.

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Descriptive diagram of the missile trajectory of the missile armed with a hypersonic glider to strike land targets presented by the Japanese Ministry of Defense

Anyway, the Japanese Ministry of Defense awarded the industrial contracts relating to these programs, and issued a statement on the subject on June 6. So, the company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Ltd was awarded the first phase of the development of the hypersonic anti-ship missile to enter service in 2031, until 2026; as well as the first part until 2027, concerning the development program of a hypersonic land-strike glider which must enter service in 2030.

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