Japan commits to Tomahawk cruise missile buy

Japan has committed the acquisition of up to 400 US-made Tomahawk cruise missiles and associated equipment after it had on 18 January finalised a letter of acceptance (LOA) that paves the way for their eventual procurement between fiscal year 2025 and 2027, according to the Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD).

JMOD also noted that the missiles will be acquired under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mechanism. It first revealed in October 2023 that it was accelerating efforts to deploy stand-off weapons such as the Tomahawk cruise missile to address the deteriorating security situation in the region.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced subsequently announced on 17 November 2023 that the US State Department has approved a possible deal for up to 200 Block IV and 200 Block V Tomahawk missiles and associated control and support equipment to Japan worth approximately US$2.35 billion.

“The proposed sale will improve Japan’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a long-range, conventional surface-to-surface (SSM) missile with significant stand-off range that can neutralize growing threats. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these articles into its armed forces,” said the DSCA in its statement.

Besides acquiring US-made missiles, Japan has also embarked on indigenous stand-off missile development programmes. For example, it is developing an improved version of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Type 12 surface-to-surface missile (SSM) with a maximum range of up to 1,000 km, a significant increase from the current model’s 200 km range.

Japan is rapidly modernising its Japan Self-Defense Force amid what the government believes to be its “severest” security environment since World War II due to increasing hostility from China and North Korea.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to double Japan’s annual defence budget to around US$68 billion by 2027, which would position the country in third place after the US and China.

by Jr Ng