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Japan Mulling Cargo Aircraft-Launched Missile Capability

The Japanese Ministry of Defense is considering mounting long-range missiles on military transport aircraft as part of a counter-strike capability.

Tokyo is planning to develop a counter-strike capability against missile launch bases from where an attack is imminent.

The missiles being considered include the US-made Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) and an aircraft-launched version of the Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missile, The Japan Times reported, citing sources.

Missile Options

The JASSM Extended Range can strike a target around 900 kilometers (559 miles) away. The Type 12 version under development has a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

According to the outlet, the missile would be configured for launch from the Kawasaki C-2 aircraft. The Japanese military currently has 15 C-2s.

The missile’s engine would self-ignite after being dropped from the cargo aircraft and propel the munition toward the target.

USAF Rapid Dragon Program

The C-2’s greater payload capacity of 20 tons and range of 7,600 kilometers (4,722 miles) enable it to carry the munitions in greater quantity and launch from a standoff distance. 

The concept is also being developed by the US Air Force, having demonstrated the launch of a swarm of air-launched missiles with the Rapid Dragon palletized weapon system last year.

Technical Research in 2024

A total of 3.5 billion yen ($25 million) has been budgeted for capability development in the current fiscal year.  

Full-scale production is expected after the completion of technical research in 2024.

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