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Japan mulls long-range missiles on transport aircraft

Based on available information, it is likely that the upgraded air-launched variant of Japan's Type 12 missile and the US-origin Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range could be used to turn Japan's cargo aircraft into lethal platforms. (Janes)

Transport aircraft of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) could be equipped with long-range missiles to improve the country's stand-off strike capabilities.

A Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson confirmed to Janes that the MoD and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) “will develop and procure a stand-off missile launch system that can be equipped on transport aircraft”.

Such missile-equipped aircraft could be used by Japan to conduct long-range attacks on adversarial targets such as ships and missile launch sites. The use of transport aircraft would also obviate the need for Japan to acquire additional combat aircraft such as bombers for this role.

The programme is part of a plan by Japan to diversify its stand-off missile launch capabilities. According to the MoD spokesperson, Japan's Defense Buildup Program (DPB) stated that further diversification of missile launch capabilities is required to “effectively disrupt, defeat, and deter invasions against Japan”.

“This will enable us to maintain the survivability of our missiles, and enforce more complex operations on adversaries,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the MoD will subsequently “examine such details as specific models of transport aircraft to be equipped with the launch system, as well as types of stand-off missiles to be launched from the system”.

According to Janes

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