Japan has outlined its plan for the coming decades to develop and acquire hypersonic weapons amid concerns by Tokyo of the growing military capabilities of neighbouring countries such as China and North Korea.
An 18-page report distributed by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo at the 18-20 November DSEI Japan 2019 defence exhibition in Chiba stated that Japan needs to acquire core technologies that contribute to the "realisation of a stand-off defensive attack capability … with hypersonic projectiles".
The Northeast Asian country is looking to achieve this in two development stages, according to the MoD. The first will focus on the development of components and technologies related to the weapon's warhead, airframe as well as fire-control, guidance, and propulsion systems. The second stage will involve using the R&D results from the first stage to test and evaluate the weapon and its capabilities.
Japan is currently developing two hypersonic weapons: the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP) and the Hypersonic Cruising Missile.
The HVGP is designed for launch using a rocket motor, with the projectile (glide vehicle) separating from it at high altitude and then gliding at hypersonic speed to its target. The HVGP, which is set to be guided using an inertial navigation system (INS) aided by the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), will be developed in two variants (Block I and Block II), with Block II featuring higher speed and manoeuvrability, according to the ATLA.
As Jane's reported in September 2018, the HVGP is expected to have a range of several hundred kilometres. This would enable the weapon to be used for island-to-island firing in Japan's southwestern Nansei (also known as Ryukyu) Islands, which include the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. The islands are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
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