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Updated December 21st, 2023 at 06:30 IST

Japan's accelerates deployment of upgraded Type 12 missiles, signals proactive defense stance

Japan fast-tracks deployment of upgraded Type 12 missiles to 2025, a year earlier than planned, responding to North Korea, China, and Russia's military threats.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Type 12 missiles
Type 12 missiles | Image:AP
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In a significant strategic move, the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) has announced the expedited deployment of the upgraded Type 12 surface-to-ship missile (SSM) by a year. The deployment, initially planned for 2026, has been advanced to 2025, aligning with Japan's National Defense Strategy (NDS) to counter growing military threats from North Korea, China, and Russia. 

The MoD, in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), signed a contract in April for the development and mass production of enhanced Type 12 SSMs. The ministry allocated JPY33.8 billion (US$235 million) in the 2023 budget for the research and development of the missile, with the entire cost estimated to be JPY 150 billion. 

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Strategic context and China's assertive stance

The expedited deployment comes at a crucial juncture with escalating concerns over North Korea's missile program and China's assertive stance, particularly regarding Taiwan. Japan's move is part of a broader military modernization initiative to bolster its long-range counterstrike capabilities and enhance its defense posture.

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Credit- AP

The updated Type 12 SSMs feature advanced capabilities, including a reported range of at least 900 kilometers (potentially increasing to 1,200 kilometers) and a modified shape for reduced radar cross-section, enhancing stealth capabilities. The decision to advance the deployment is a strategic response to the evolving geopolitical landscape, emphasizing the need to address security challenges posed by neighboring countries. 

Integration of advanced missiles 

In addition to the expedited deployment, Japan is acquiring advanced missiles from the United States to further enhance its defensive capabilities. The recent approval includes the sale of 400 advanced Tomahawk missiles, offering the potential to target enemy bases and command-and-control centers in remote areas.

Credit- X/@USNavyEurope

The U.S. State Department authorized the potential sale of air-to-air missiles to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) proposals include AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II Tactical Missiles and AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), aimed at improving Japan's capability to address current and future threats. 

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Broader implications for Japan's defense 

The expedited deployment and acquisition of advanced missiles underscore Japan's commitment to fortify its defense posture and address evolving security challenges. These measures align with the government's decision to extend the range of the Type 12 SSM in 2020, reflecting the country's determination to deter potential invasions.  

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The Japanese government's commitment to counterstrike capabilities, as outlined in its National Security and National Defense Strategies, emphasizes the significance of these measures in deterring potential threats to Japan. 

In conclusion, Japan's accelerated deployment of the Type 12 SSM and the acquisition of advanced missiles mark a proactive approach to strengthening its defense capabilities. The geopolitical context, technological advancements, and the broader implications for Japan's defense posture highlight the multifaceted significance of these strategic moves in the ever-evolving security landscape. 

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Published December 21st, 2023 at 06:30 IST

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