Japan awards Mitsubishi to design 2 hypersonic, anti-ship missiles by 2030

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After maintaining a defense posture based on the strict sufficiency of means and a defense effort below the threshold of 1% of GDP during the Cold War and beyond, Japan has, since the middle of the previous decade, undertaken to modernize and strengthen its military capabilities significantly, in particular by equipping itself with means previously considered incompatible with the Japanese constitution, such as the Izumo class helicopter-carrying destroyers transformed into aircraft carriers capable of deploying high-speed aircraft. F-35B combat, capability lost by the Japanese navy since 1945.

Since 2021 and the publication of the new White Paper on Defense identifying China, but also Russia as threats , a status previously reserved for North Korea, and recommending Japanese support for American forces in the context of the crisis of Taiwan and Tokyo have also undertaken to considerably increase their investments in the development of disruptive military systems, whether drones, directed energy weapons, railguns but also hypersonic weapons.

This is how three years ago, the Japanese authorities announced the launch of two hypersonic missile programs , one with an anti-ship vocation based on a semi-ballistic trajectory, the other using a hypersonic glider to strike enemy land targets.

If the development of the anti-ship missile does not pose any challenges outside the technological field, the development of the hypersonic land strike system required a certain interpretation of the Japanese constitution which prohibits so-called offensive weapons , as well as the notion pre-emptive strikes.

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Descriptive diagram of the missile trajectory of the missile armed with a hypersonic glider to strike land targets presented by the Japanese Ministry of Defense

In any case, the Japanese Ministry of Defense awarded the industrial contracts relating to these programs , and published a press release on this subject on June 6. So, the company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Ltd was awarded the first phase of the development of the hypersonic anti-ship missile to enter service in 2031, lasting until 2026; as well as the first part until 2027, concerning the development program for a hypersonic land strike glider which is due to enter service in 2030.

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