Japan's Air Self-Defense Force will equip its F-2 fighters fleet with a new air-to-ship missile that travels three times faster than the type 93, from next fiscal year.
The government will allocate huge amount in a budgetary request for fiscal 2018 to mass produce the missile, which is currently under development. It is first supersonic air to ship type missile to be developed in the country, The Japan News reported quoted Yomiuri Shimbun.
The new missile has been characterized as being difficult to intercept. The domestically built type 80 and type 93 air-to-ship missiles can both reach near-supersonic speeds. The new air-to-ship missile will travel significantly faster, with a speed of around Mach 3, it is about three times faster than the type 93 and on par with the most advanced missiles of the same variety overseas.
The time required to hit a target would be significantly reduced with the new air-to-ship missile, which can fly at a low altitude close to the water surface to easily evade radar detection. Additionally, the missile will have a longer range than the type 93, which travels less than 200 kilometers.
The Defense Ministry test-fires the new air-to-ship missile against a retired destroyer. If it proves to have high performance, the ministry will gradually equip F-2 fighters deployed to units in western Japan with the missile.
The F-2 fighter, developed jointly by Japan and the United States, is known for its high capability to attack ships. The fighter was deployed from 2000, and the ASDF has now introduced about 90 units.
The aircraft is scheduled to be used as the ASDF’s main fighter aircraft until around the 2030s. If the aircraft is equipped with the new missile, its attack capability is expected to be boosted.