Japan has planned to purchase medium-range, air-launched cruise missiles that are capable of reaching North Korea.
Speaking at a press conference Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the country is still dependent on US to strike any enemy bases. Itsunori Onodera did not refer to North Korea when announcing the planned acquisition said the new missiles would be for defence.
“We are planning to introduce the JSM (Joint Strike Missile) that will be mounted on the F-35A (stealth fighter) as ‘stand-off’ missiles that can be fired beyond the range of enemy threats,” — he said.
Japan is also looking to mount Lockheed Martin Corp’s extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) on its F-15 fighters, he said.
The JSM – designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, comes with a range of 500 km (310 miles) whereas JASSM-ER can hit targets 1,000 km away.
Japan’s missiles have previously been limited to anti-aircraft and anti-ship munitions, with ranges of less than 186 miles.
North Korea fired a ballistic weapon last month that reached an altitude of 2,780 miles before landing in Japanese waters. Based on its trajectory and distance, it would have a range of more than 8,100 miles.
It is to be noted that Japan has adopted a near-pacifist policy after World War 2 and was restricted from having offensive military forces. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country should be considered revising the constitution as North Korea continues with its reckless missile tests.
Japan is boosting its military arsenal as the nuclear threat from tyrant Kim Jong-un grows.