Friday, February 23, 2024

Japan will equip its submarines with vertical launch systems for cruise missiles

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Due to its geographical position, and its very close ties with the United States, particularly in terms of defense , Japan is today on the front line if a conflict were to break out between the People's Republic of China and the United States, probably about Taiwan. If, throughout the Cold War, Tokyo provided significant support to American forces deployed in the Pacific and particularly in Southeast Asia, while participating in containing the Soviet threat in this theater, the country was relatively spared, compared to the Western countries in Europe, and its self-defense forces were sized and designed solely for defensive purposes, with the country's constitution prohibiting any other military action. For around fifteen years, however, the Indo-Pacific theater has been the subject of a rapid and significant intensification of tensions , in particular due to the forced modernization of the Chinese People's Liberation Army , including in the naval domain, while the Chinese Navy has gone, in a few years, from a coastal defense force to a high-level naval force capable of competing with the powerful US Navy.

Among the subjects of great concern for the Japanese self-defense forces is the very real risk of potential massive preemptive strikes launched by the PLA against Japan and its armed forces, so as to deprive the country of its defense and security capabilities. retaliates. If the defense agreements with the United States are supposed to protect Tokyo from such a hypothesis, the Japanese authorities have intended, for several years, to give its self-defense forces more extensive means to contain such strikes, with for example the construction of 8 destroyers equipped with the AEGIS anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic system , by developing new protection capabilities such as directed energy weapons or a railgun-type electric cannon , as well as by modifying the two helicopter-carrying destroyers of the Izumo class to make them light aircraft carriers that can accommodate a dozen F-35B Lightning IIs. In addition, Tokyo has undertaken the design of two super-destroyers intended exclusively for anti-missile defense, replacing the AEGIS Ashore system initially planned for this mission.

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Taigei class submarine Defense analyzes | Military Naval Construction | Submarine fleet
Japanese Taigei-class submarines have the required dimensions to accommodate VLS

However, all of these systems are intended above all to be defensive, and as such, do not contribute to deterring a potential attacker, including China or North Korea, unless they rely on the United States to that. And if relations between Tokyo and Washington do not suffer from any tension today, the Japanese authorities remember that this was not the case in 2017 and 2018, with the arrival of Donald Trump at the White House, before the Japan decides to order a hundred additional F-35 A and B. It is therefore hardly surprising that, as part of the preparation of the 2023 budget, and after announcing a few weeks ago its intention to arm its submarines with medium-change cruise missiles , Tokyo announced that he intended to equip some of his submarines with vertical launch systems for cruise missiles , giving the Japanese fleet second-strike capabilities which, even without being nuclear, could prove potentially devastating against command centers or even political or strategic infrastructure of a potential attacker.

LOGO meta defense 70 Analyzes Defense | Military Naval Construction | Submarine fleet

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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