skip to main content

Japan assesses UAVs to counter hypersonic missiles

Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) is considering the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a countermeasure against hypersonic weapons.

The MoD told Janes on 30 August that the project is part of a wider assessment of new air and missile defence capabilities.

“The Japanese MoD is steadily making necessary efforts and continuing studies to strengthen comprehensive air and missile defence capabilities including countermeasures against hypersonic missiles,” a spokesperson from the MoD said, adding these studies include evaluating the “availability of UAVs … [to] enable the early detection of hypersonic missiles”.

The spokesperson said that a decision to start development of this capability has not yet been reached.

The MoD spokesperson also indicated that the project will be funded through Japan's 2022–23 defence budget but did not elaborate. This expenditure, proposed by the MoD on 31 August, was for JPY5.48 trillion (USD50 billion).

The MoD did not provide details about how the UAV countermeasure system would work. However, it is likely that the vehicles would be equipped with advanced infrared sensors integrated with satellites and a layered air defence system.

The MoD's Defense of Japan 2021 white paper – issued in July – indicated that such capability is a priority.

This policy said the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) aim to deploy an “integrated” missile and air defence capability that can “simultaneously deal with multiple, complex airborne threats”.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...