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Japan to begin receiving Joint Strike Missiles from April 2021

Tokyo is expected to start taking delivery of precision-guided Joint Strike Missiles (JSMs) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) growing fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from April 2021, a Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson told Janes on 9 September.

An image provided by the Japanese MoD showing a model of the JSM.  (Japan MoD)

An image provided by the Japanese MoD showing a model of the JSM. (Japan MoD)

The missiles, which have been designed to fit in the internal weapons bay of the F-35A, have a range of about 500 km and can thus be launched from a stand-off distance.

In November 2019 manufacturer Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace announced that it had signed a NOK450 million (USD49.2 million) follow-on contract to provide additional JSMs for the JASDF’s F-35As. The move came after Kongsberg announced in March 2019 that it had signed a contract to provide an undisclosed number of “initial” JSMs for Japan’s F-35A fighters.

In fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018) Tokyo allocated JPY2.2 billion (USD20.8 million) to the JASDF for the acquisition of air-launched stand-off missiles, including JPY2.16 billion for the purchase of JSMs. It also budgeted JPY7.9 billion in FY 2019, and JPY13.6 billion in FY 2020 for JSM procurement.

That said, Tokyo also plans to acquire the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and the AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) to meet a requirement for air-launched stand-off missiles for the JASDF’s multirole fighter aircraft.

A Japanese MoD official had told Janes in January that Tokyo is looking to procure those weapon systems from the United States “as soon as possible” for fitment onto JASDF F-15J Eagle fighters to enhance the platforms’ capabilities to effectively counter attacks at longer ranges.


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