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Japan to develop new medium-range air-to-air missile

Japan's new medium-range AAM programme will assimilate research findings from the earlier Joint New AAM (JNAAM) project. (Japan Ministry of Defense/Janes)

Japan has said it will develop a new medium-range air-to-air missile (AAM) to arm its sixth-generation Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) fighter aircraft.

According to a spokesperson of the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), development of the missile will begin in Japan fiscal year (JFY) 2024.

The spokesperson told Janes that the new AAM will equip “the next-generation fighter aircraft” and demonstrate “necessary capabilities” such as “effectively counter[ing] air and missile threats”.

A budget of JPY18.4 billion (USD123.5 million) has been allocated for the development of the missile, according to information from ATLA and the MoD.

The new missile is slated to assimilate research findings of the existing Joint New AAM (JNAAM) programme. The Japan-led JNAAM programme, which started in 2014, aimed to develop an AAM with active-radar guidance and a lethal warhead.

“The Japan-UK joint research on the JNAAM will be completed in JFY 2023, and the results of the research will be used for R&D [research and development] on future medium-range air-to-air guided missiles in each country,” the spokesperson said.

Janes earlier understood that the JNAAM would be subject to testing. In 2022 the MoD secured JPY350 million to fund preparations for the air-launched tests of a JNAAM prototype in the JFY 2022 budget. However, the spokesperson told Janes that “the JNAAM is not scheduled to enter the testing phase”.

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